Friday, February 27, 2015

Farmer Jess

Well, there they are!  In all their fuzzy glory!

Not long after they arrived, so did a 10" blanket of snow that is still here nearly two weeks later.  It's had some freezing rain and melt/refreeze action added to it.  In short, not easy critter caring weather.

This was the day it all started to melt.  And then it changed it's mind and throughly iced over.

So I'd spun a circle out on E while it was in four wheel drive.  19 was fine.  But then I couldn't get up the hill to the gate even!  I finally called Jeremiah and asked him to come drive.  I tried a few more times while I was waiting and then looked down to realize I was in two wheel drive.  :)   I sheepishly called the house as I eased up the road.  Nobody answered and I started to make a run for the hill.  Jeremiah came flying around the curve on the four wheeler.  I started giggling and hung my head out the window, honking the horn, and hollering at him to get out of the way.  He laughed, slid into the pasture, and started doing donuts.  I love his good sense of humor!

I spun out on each hill at least once and had to back down to the last flat part and run at it again.  I crab walked up the little hill, cutting my wheels back and forth, trying to keep the rear end on the road.  I was on the second to last hill and got a little impatient, spun out a little too long, and got the back end to close to the bank to where I couldn't back down the hill to try again without falling over the edge.

Jeremiah teased me and headed to the house for the come-a-long.  Every time I'd gotten stuck I'd been asking him for advice and all he'd say was "STEP ON IT GRANDMA!!!"  :D  I really appreciated him trusting me, letting me play and figure it out without worrying about me messing up the truck, and then coming to save me when I pushed it a little too far.   Once we got it back on the road, I made it up the last hill, sliding from one side of the road to the other and only barely making it.  His only comment was "nice driving."  :)  'Twas a fun day!

Anyways, back to the goats.

A little bit of the current set up ....

Using this tank to haul hot water (direct from the hot water heater). 
One for the goats, one for the horses.

3/8" fiberglass fence posts with step in pins attached to the bottom.  The step in pin work very nicely allowing me to put the pressure directly over the pin rather than off to the side as with the normal step in posts.

Experimenting with extension cord reels for the polybraid.  They're much cheaper.
Keeping records over cookies and milk.

So this is how we connected the electric fence to the barn bunks ... only I moved it over a bit
so that the bunk braces blocked the opening.

Shortly after the snow.  Spuds seems to do a good job of keeping an eye on everyone.

Cozied up in the shed for those sub zero windy nights!

And this ... this is a dog.  My dog.  That has been running behind the truck.  Bath time!

Their second pasture.  They've been eating on that brush at the bottom of the hill and we can actually walk through there now!  Only 6 days later.

This is number 35.  Trying to learn to recognize them all!

Generic goat whose number I don't know.  :\

This is Krinkle.  She's number 37.

That's number 42.  She has a sleek dark coat and rather a pretentious flare to her horns.

And the friendly goat.  Nancy?  Amy?  Poppy?

Get along little goatie!  

This is 31.

This is the beginning of a new life experience for me.  I've had pets.  But this is different.  This is a business venture.  Thus begins the journey of herd management.   It's scary.  It's exciting.  And it'll be even better when there are goat babies on the ground!  :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Discipline of Celebration

I’m reading this book.  A friend handed it to me with the encouragement to read a certain chapter.  The whole book was good though and he wanted it back.  This piqued my curiosity and after reading the said chapter I started at the beginning.  If it hadn’t been for his recommendation, I would have completely passed this book by based on the title.  Spiritual disciplines are quite important though, and a topic, I feel, is not often enough addressed.  I appreciated this author’s lead up to actually teaching the disciplines.  He spoke about our ability to change, what was required in changing, our role versus God’s role.  A good foundation.

Anyways, the chapter that has impressed me the most thus far is “A Dee Dah Day” on the discipline of celebration.  Such thoughts gave birth to the title of this blog, my life as a journey of joy, a journey in the discipline and art of celebration.  

John begins by telling a story of bathing his children before bed.  A particular daughter, once evicted from the tub, began running around in circles, dancing, and chanting “dee dah day”.  He became impatient with her as she messed up his plans of quickly drying her off and getting closer to “in bed”.  He told her to hurry.  So she ran faster and chanted more quickly.  He then was more specific in the kind of hurry he was after.  She stopped and stared at him and asked the ever present child’s question, “Why?”  Much to his credit he stopped and thought about that rather than just firing back a Dad, in control, thoughtless, un-eternal answer.  He realized he did not have a good answer.  She was celebrating the moment, the day the Lord had made.  He got up and joined her.  

I thought of when I have seen parents do just the opposite.  Rather than embracing the sanctification that comes of raising little people, from increased patience to seriously thinking through and answering the unmitigated barrage of questions, they succumb to the felt need of always being in charge, responsible, and right.  Always having an answer, any answer … as impotent as “because I said so”.  Seriously answering their haphazard questions, especially all the “why’s”, creates opportunity for change in you.  Why indeed?  Is it a good reason?  A holy, righteous, loving reason?  If not, have the joy, respect, humility, courage, and tenderness to the Lord to change.  What better example for the littles?  I wrote these thoughts in my journal, praying that I would have a similar or better perspective when I stand looking at my own flesh and blood.

Back to the topic of joy.  The following is excerpts and thoughts from John Ortoberg’s book.  

G. K. Chesterton referred to the do-it-again-ness of children, their joy in monotony, and pointed out that as adults we are not strong enough to experience joy in monotony.  But God does.  Every morning, he says to the sun, “Do it again!”  And to the moon, and the seasons, and to the rhythm of life.  We should take joy in goodness and in perfection, in beauty repeated.  Joy is God’s basic character with sorrow as a temporary response to a fallen world.  God has a fierce, unwearying joy that we should mirror.  Lewis Smedes insisted that missing out joy is missing out on the reason for our existence.  Joy is biblically non optional.  Joylessness is a sin.

Gratitude is closely linked to joy.  Practice gratitude.  

Joy also directly affects our ability to be strong.  The joy of the Lord is our strength.  Failure to attain a deeply satisfying life makes sinful cations seem good, and we are more vulnerable to temptation.  It is easier to be strong if we are basically happy with our lives.  To abstain from bodily joys and pleasures because they are “unspiritual” weakens us in our efforts to do right.  We should arrange our lives so sin doesn’t look good to us.
{I’m not sure I totally agree with this section.  I get the concept.  If we are disgruntled with life and not finding our joy in the Lord, we are more likely to believe the lie that sin will provide pleasure and fill that emptiness.  However, I’m not sure that we should be striving after happinesses as a way to avoid sin.  Sanctification is a work the Lord does in our life through his grace, not our mental tricks.}

Joy is a learned skill and we are each responsible for our own joy.  We learn joy through the discipline of celebration.  This is not hedonism which provides diminishing returns (to be happy we need even more of what we previously had), but exercising our ability to see and feel goodness in the simplest gifts of God.  Joy capacity increases as we are able to delight today in what was untouchable yesterday.  THIS is the day the Lord has made, the day Christ’s death has redeemed!

True joy comes to those devoted to something greater than personal happiness.  Authentic joy is compatible with pain and exists in spite of something.  Karl Barth described joy as a “defiant nevertheless” set at full stop against bitterness and resentment.

Bonhoeffer (imprisioned for a year and half by the Nazis and then hung) states that God cannot endure that unfestive, mirthless attitude of ours in which we eat our bread in sorry, with pretentious, busy haste, ore even with shame.  Through our daily meals He is calling us to rejoice, to keep holiday in the midst of our working day.

John suggests several ways to practice celebration.  Unplugging for a week to help your joy.  It’s proven that TV makes people more unhappy.  People know it, yet they continue.  Social media is in the same category, linked to depression and anxiety.   Go do something.

View life from a biblical perspective, not positive thinking, but rather eschatological thinking.  Our union with God is compared to a wedding.  You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace!  The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you.  There will be shouts of the joy and the trees of the field will clap their hands!  He will dwell with us as our God; we will be his peoples, and God himself will be with us; he will wipe every tear from our eyes.  Death will be not more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.  {Read that again.  And again.  How can we not rejoice?}  He spoke these things to us that our joy might be complete.  Perfect.  Lacking in nothing.  Nothing.

Three cheers for the snow!  Even though, which the new herd of goats, that means hauling hot water down from from the house, chipping ice out of troughs, bucking hay, paying for hay, and learning how to dress smart.  The horses have also been thankful for the goats requiring warm water.  It's been a beautiful week.  

I am camera-less for the time being, so we'll be recycling some of my favorite pictures that, hopefully, you haven't seen before.  :)  And I'm taking donations.

As you complete your week, please think of what this concept of joy means and should mean for you.  Practice the art of celebration.  

For me, this is preparation for celebration {stolen from pinterest} 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dressing is where it's at!

According to this article, salad dressing is one of the common grocery list items that we are seriously overpaying for.  Not to mention most salad dressing has a lot of nasties (technical term for additives, preservatives, and things not normally found in your kitchen) in it.  If that isn't reason enough for you to add a few dressing recipes to your box, maybe this will be.

That's about it folks, it's really that easy!  And if you want it even easier use a blender!

There are dressing recipes clogging up the internet like never before, but here are a few of my personal favorites:

Tessa's Caesar Dressing
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (buy the good stuff, really)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup grated parmesan (again, there's no such thing as too much cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • White vinegar to desired consistancy
Mix it up in a bowl, adding the vinegar last.  It will set up some when it is refrigerated, so make it slightly thinner than you want to eat it.  Seal it up in a pint jar with a pretty label and feel very accomplished.

Julie's Caesar Dressing
(haven't tried this one yet, but if Julie says it's good ....)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 c. shredded parmesan
  • 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove smashed and minced garlic
Blend in a food processor.

Balsamic Vinegarette
(It's from Oprah.  I apologize.)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 clove crushed minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the vinegars and mustard.  Add the garlic.  Whisk in a few drops of olive oil.  Finish adding the olive oil little by little, whisking in between until it becomes an emulsion.  Basically this means that the oil has been separated in to very small droplets and appears to have mixed into the vinegars.  This makes it almost creamy!  Stir in the salt and pepper.  Use your old Red Star red wine vinegar bottle to store it in the fridge with your pretty label.  It should be removed from the fridge, allowed to warm slightly, and given a good swift shake before use.

Ranch Dressing
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
Combine adding milk to desired consistency.

Margene's Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant onion (I used the dried chips in the spice bottle)
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 ounces crumbled Maytag blue cheese
Combine!  Milk may be added to adjust consistency.

There.  That ought to get you started and thoroughly hooked on making your own dressing!  Once I tasted the goodness, I never wanted to go back.  And again, the internets has all kind of great recipes for every day dressings and exotic ones.  Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Song for the day: Stay Alive

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Constantly Craving - 10

Well guys, I thought this book thing was gonna be a good idea ... at least for this book because it was soooo good.  It has created a serious mental block for me in posting though. I've come across all kinds of other great things to blog about .... this great new dressing I made, some crafty things I've made, just the greatness of life.  But you see, I started this thing, and I've got to finish that out before I bring in any other craziness.

So here it is!  The loosing of my blogging bonds.  :)  And this chapter is really good!  Probably my favorite one as it covers how to make decisions and following the Lord's will.  It was just hard to get it done.  She makes it so incredibly simple.

Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg
Chapter 10 starting on page 132

So then, let’s consider our purpose for living.  The distinction between “meaning” and “purpose” is helpful because they serve very different but defining functions for us.  When I finally discover the meaning of my life, I’m no meant to sit by the side of the road content with my discovery.  The God-given meaning for life come with the desire for purpose in life.  “Meaning is about being; “purpose” is about doing,  What are we supposed to “do”?  What is the God given purpose for our existence?

Trying to consider these heady questions, it would be much easier to be a ladybug.  They don’t have options; they are created for one purpose.  But human being have many possible options.  To begin with, our first purpose is to love and serve God, but there are usually a number of different options we can choose that will express that purpose.

For example, my purpose has been living out through four different options: teacher, counselor, speaker, and writer.  These are my professional purposes, and all fall within the range of my giftedness.  But because I have a narrow band of competence, were I to stray from those purposes, disaster would ensue.  I could not be a bus driver because, though I like to drive I often lose track of where I am.  “Am I supposed to be in Idaho?  When did I leave Texas?”  I could not be a nurse, though I have compassion.  I would forget who gets what medication and on what schedule.  I could not work for the IRS because I can’t figure out what I owe or why; I could ever make that mystifying procedure comprehensible.  (Can anyone?)

Many of us have chosen to be a wife, husband, and parent in addition to other professional options.  Some choose to do both at the same time.  I chose to be a wife and mother; only later in the lives of my children did I add the professional expressions of my purpose.  All these roles have equal meaning and purpose; with each of them is the call to serve God and others.

Much of knowing our purpose in life is knowing our individual strengths and then living out of those strengths.  When we recognize that our gifts are sovereignly designed and placed within us for a specific divine purpose, our life track is clarified.  I have rarely questioned m life prose but have often wondered where and how I was meant to live it out.  We’ll talk later about that “where and how”.

While my focus here is on looking to God for our purpose, I must also acknowledge that those who do not look to God for purpose, those who feel no imperative to love and serve him, can still live a life of clearly defined purpose that is of enormous value to the community.  My grandfather was a man of integrity, compassion, and deep commitment to the needs of others.  He had not faith or belief in the God of the bible.  But my grandfather’s drive to make the world a better place never wavered.  That drive had its origin in a the mind of a man who felt not need of a personal god nor ever sought to find him.  His god was bettering the world through good deeds.

As a lawyer and municipal judge in the state of Colorado, my grandfather was often an intercessor for oppressed and disenfranchised persons who sought representation from someone who would do for theme hat they could not do for themselves.  For him, that was his life’s purpose.  The irony was that Jesus did for my grandfather what Grandfather did for others.  When my grandfather died of a heart attack at age sixty-four, he left a rich and meaningful earthly heritage.   But there could have been more for him, so much more.

The How, When , and Where of Living Out Our Purpose

Since the meaning of life is knowing and loving God followed by loving others, our purpose is narrowed down to our understanding of our gifts and how, when, or where God means to sue them.  For my grandfather, that was not an issue.  He utilized his gifts how, when, and where he chose to use them.  But as Christ followers we seek to find diving guidance for how, when, and where.  And that, unfortunately, can create stress and uncertainty in our souls.

How do we know God’s will for living out our purpose?  We ask him, of course.  But discerning his answer is sometimes challenging.  If only God spoke out louts today as he did in the Old Testament; it would be so much easier to know his will.

At one time my life questions would have been: “How do I know the difference between my voice and Gods voice in my heart and my mind?  How do I know it’s my will or his will to teach in California or in Washington?”  After Ken died, “How am I to know if I am supposed to sell our house?”  And later, I would have asked, “Is it Gods will for me to sell my condo in California and buy that house in Texas?  Is it God’s will that I leave the state of my birth and move to a part of Texas where there are no sandy ocean beaches?”

My inevitable and frequently asked question throughout these stages of my life was, “God, what do you think?”

Jesus gave one very specific answer to that question in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about our body, what you will put on …
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? ….
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.”  (Matthew 6:25, 27, 33-34)

So one thing we know about God’s will is we are not to worry about the future.  Jesus said that being anxious shows a lack of trust in God’s provision for us in the present as well as the future.  But what do we do then with the how, when or where issues?

Is it possible that we make knowing the how, when, or where of God’s will a bigger issue for us than he intends it to be?  God’s Holy Spirit-infused book doe snot tell me where to live.  Instead it tells me “how” to live.  When I know how to live, and I commit to it, that kid of living can occur in California, Washington, Texas, or Africa.  His purpose and my purpose can link in that common goal of loving him and loving others anywhere on the planet.

God is not indifferent to the details of my life, however.  In fact he is totally in control of the details of my life.  In fact, his is totally in control of the details of my life.  That’s why it is possible for the Christ follower to relax and not worry about the now or the future.  And yes, it is possible that we make knowing the how, when, or where of God’s will a bigger issue for us than he intends it to be.  It is true his purpose for  us of loving him and loving others can occur anywhere on the planet, but the amazing truth is, he has a specific how, when, and where for it all.

Why am I so sure?  Ephesians 1:11 includes the phrase “being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the consul of His will”.  For thirty years that verse has been my guiding cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, leading me through life the way God led the Israelites through the wilderness.

The End of Anxiety

Until I larned more about the sovereign design of God’s plan for my life and purpose, I tended to be anxious.  “What if I messed up my life by making wrong decisions?  What if I didn’t pray enough?  What if I didn’t have ears to hear or eyes to see?”  These conscientious questions could at times be agonizing.

But my anxiety ultimately diminished as I studied God’s word and absorbed verses like these:

“I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course.”  Jeremiah 10:23

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”  Proverbs 19:21

These verses are foundational to an understanding of God’s sovereign design for my purpose in life.  In it all, God invites my participation in planning, evaluating, and ultimately choosing the options that appear to make sense to me.  The safety net is simply that I participate, but I’m not in charge.  He’s in cargo of everything concerning my options.

So I can stop being so anxious, trusting hat tGod knows exactly how he intends to “grow me up” as well as how he will use me for his purposes.  So when I make a plan and the door closes on it, I”m reminded, “the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

I’m also reminded of another peace-producing truth in Romans 8:26-28:

“The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Understanding these truths affirming God’s sovereignty over our purposes lets us stop the magical thinking that sometimes springs up in our heads as we attempt to know his will.

  • That check that came in the mail the very day I was wondering if I should buy a new house.  Could it be a sign?
  • He got sick the very day we were supposed to fly to Florida.  Could it be a sign?

I want always to look to Scripture instead of to signs, which may be no more than human assumptions and hopes that add fuel to a fire not meant to be.

Proverbs 3:6 says, “seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

We can count on the fact that we can count on him. 

The One Answer to Our Constant Craving

There is only one answer to our craving for more meaning or more purpose in life, and that is God himself.  his love, participation, and direction in a we do come not from a dictator but from a father.  He is a father who takes pleasure in his children, watches over their activities,a nd determines when is just the right time for their next step.  If there is a misstep, he goes after us and places us back on the path of his choosing.

Like any good father, he provides security.  He knows we can be “as frail as breath”  (Isaiah 2:22).  And he promises that we find “shelter in the shadow of [his] wings” (Psalm 36:7).  

Think on it hard.  Digest it.  Apply it.  The Lord promises to guide our steps and that he will be found by those who seek him.  It is no mystery, other than the mystery of faith.

Song for the day  - Punctual as Usual