The little calf came into the world unbeknownst to anyone. Not even the mama cow knew she’d dropped her off because once she did, she never returned. Apparently, the instinct to mother doesn’t come as naturally to some as it does to others. I suppose we all have our standards of what it’s supposed to look like, but nobody bothered to tell the mama cow cause she never looked back.

However, my farmer, now he’s got the innate ability to care for critters and this one was no different. After helping raise six of his own kids, caring comes naturally. As soon as he saw the little newborn, he gathered her up and placed her strategically within the hay-laden shed to keep her dry. The weather was still a bit iffy for this time of year, and he was prepared, just in case.

Head of the farm was his job, mine was to listen about the comings and goings of it all. I’d heard about the bottle calf but hadn’t much to do with it until the grandkids came for a visit. After the little calf they did take and loved each minute. However, once they headed home, back to him was passed the job of caring for the bottle calf. Until…

One day, he announced he was going to be gone, and it would be my job to care for the little bugger. By this time, I was sure I could do it. After all, if the grands could feed it, so could I.

Two nights before he left, we did a practice run. The instructions were easy: Fill the pitcher up with warm water, add a cup of dry milk made especially for calves, and mix. Finally, pour it into a large plastic bottle made for such a time as this, and I would be good to go.

As I began to mix the warm bottled milk and carefully pour it into the container for the little calf, I felt it. Warm tears began welling up in my eyes as my heart began connecting to this little creature in need. As I prepared to tenderly care for the little calf, I not only wanted to care for it but truly did care.

My heart floated back to our own six who were now gone into the world. Clarity became my vision for just a moment in time. Yes, after all these years of raising young ones and now taking part in grandparenting, perspective jumped out of nowhere.

Little did I know — that when God gave me little ones, it was because I needed them perhaps even more than they needed me. Oh, there was a time for sure where their lives depended upon my care all right. But now, as they are gone, I realize how much I needed to love and what a gift it truly was to do so.

Perhaps the ability to love and be loved work in tandem. No doubt they do. Reassuringly written in His Word is the royal opportunity to do just that — love. John 17:23 tells us, “I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.” Amen.

Kathleen Kjolhaug lives on the family homestead outside of Clearbrook with her husband Pete. She enjoys writing about family life and brings humor into the sacred moments of everyday living.

Theology in the Trenches appears in several local newspapers throughout Minnesota. Kathleen can be reached by e-mail at


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