By: Tonya Stevenson
We drove two hours to see our oldest daughter. We were going to see her last week but she took on a new job processing cattle except on weekends. Sunday she was going to be home making her salsa. Tasha’s husband got hurt this spring, leaving Tasha with lots of extra work on the ranch. She didn’t get her garden in until late. Now she was short tomatoes for her salsa.
Early Sunday morning I went to my garden to see if I had enough tomatoes to do any good, picking a medium box. I plucked rhubarb, peppers, cucumbers and grabbed a pumpkin, while Otie hurried through chores.
When we arrived, Tasha had just finished canning applesauce, including a batch just for us with no sugar. Now Tasha and I jumped in washing and cutting up tomatoes, peppers and onions for salsa. As we worked, we talked. A few years ago Tasha rolled a little pickup, smacking her head into the ground through the broken window. Soon after that she started having seizures, which doctors determined were a result of the brain damage from the wreck. She finally figured out, by eating good and not getting too tired, she could keep the seizures at bay. This summer her driving schedule hurled her back into the seizure pattern. She suffered one while we were over watching her ranch rodeo two months ago.
I asked her about her job. She told me, “I made $750.00 last week. I like the people I work with. They are very efficient.”
Then I asked her about the seizures. “I told them about them. They decided to still give me a try. I told them if I have one, just ignore me and keep working.”
“So…have you had any?” I asked.
She winced, then admitted, “I had two last week.”
One was mild the end of Thursday. Friday she had stabbing head pains in the morning, knew it was going to be bad. She was branding when she went down beside the chute. When she regained consciousness, they were stepping over her, doing her job, just as she had told them to. She drug through the rest of the day. Now she is canning all weekend.
I asked, “Tasha, do you have to do this fulltime for finances.”
“No, Mom. I have to because it is who I am. Just like today, I always have to do something. I am a workaholic.”
I cringed with regret. She is her parent’s child, coming by it quite naturally.
Work is a good thing. I got my first paying job, besides babysitting, when I was twelve. That summer I ran about a mile to my grandmother’s house by 4 a.m. She drove us to the joint. The two of us made lunches and fed breakfast to three or four crews of loggers numbering between 30-40 men each, six days a week.
My mom asked my grandmother if she would rather have one of the high school girls?
“Tonya, is better help than any of the high school girls.” Grandma answered. I had value.
The next summer Grandpa chose me to help change sprinkler pipes and for his hay crew loading 80 lb. bales of hay on a trailer by hand, then stacking them in the barn. I didn’t weigh a hundred pounds.
In high school I was allowed to play basketball, run track and, of course, to rodeo, but you also worked any time you could. By the time I was sixteen, I was insulating houses with Mom summers, after school and weekends, if we weren’t at a rodeo or going to Mexico. I was also the oldest of seven (at that time.) At six, it became my job to get my siblings ready for school; at seven, the family’s dishes were added, later washing the clothes and cooking.
My husband’s family allowed less sports, only wrestling in the winter and an occasional rodeo. They farmed and then ranched. Spring and fall were too busy for other activities.
Thankfully, all of our kids have excellent reputations as workers. The Bible says if you don’t work, you won’t eat.
Only now I see the error of making it one’s identity when really our identity as believers is who we are in Christ; a child of God, accepted in our Beloved, forgiven, justified, counted holy and blameless, clothed in his righteousness, Christ’s joint heir and bride-loved with a loyal everlasting love that nothing can separate us from.
Yes, we taught our children salvation by grace; but unless our whole identity and life is lived in Christ’s finished work on our behalf… there is no entering his rest. We were late learning that truth. Now we pray God will open our daughter’s eyes.