Tillamoo, the faux unicorn.

If you have ever pushed a dog around in a doggie stroller you will not want to read this post.  This post is not for people who carry dogs in their purses.  If you understand that humans have dominion over animals and that sometimes things have to happen to keep the animals as healthy as possible, keep reading.  Don’t get me wrong I love animals.  If reincarnation was a thing I would love to come back as an animal of mine.

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Look at that sweet face.  This is Tillamoo.  We call her Tilla.  She is our most reasonable goat by far.  She is steady and no-nonsense.  She will straight head butt the other girls if they get squirrelly.  But she has an issue.

tilla'shorn – Version 2

Now listen I am not here for body shaming anyone.  But if she was going for the unicorn look she missed the mark!  This is called a scur.  It happens when a goat is disbudded as baby and it doesn’t quit get all the horn.  So this funky little horn grows all jacked up and was about the grow right into her eye.  So it had to come off.  I called the lady we bought them from and asked for help.  She said we had three options.  I could wait until she knocked if off on the fence, I could take her to the vet to have them sedate her and cut if off or I could use our hoof shears and cut it off myself.  I picked the last one.  I could tell you why the last one felt like the best decision, but that is an entire post of its own.  I’m sure the fact that I made that decision makes you thankful that I am in therapy.

So I put her in the milking stantion.  She already was wary because let us all remember that a few weeks ago was our first goat show and I had to body clip them.  Goats have to be body clipped to be shown, did you know that? Yeah, me neither.  Guess who has school everyday(Sydney), and guess who is home(Me).  So I got to do the body clipping.  We now know that you should use a 7.5mm blade.  We know that now because we clipped them with a 10mm blade and they looked like hairless goats.  Seriously picture a hairless cat, then imagine a goat looking like that.  So I don’t blame this sweet girl for wondering what was about to happen.

I surveyed this weird horn. I picked up the shears and made a little cut.  It bled like I had just slit her neck.  Plus she was highly offended by it.  They say these scurs have very little feeling and blood supply.  That is a LIE.  To make peace we both took a moment.  I gave her more food, she ate it.  I re-grouped and thought that maybe, to make it as quick as possible, I should use my tree trimmers.  I went and got them and as I was walking back to her something in me said that if she died from what I was about to do I did not want the explanation to Sydney to include, “I used the tree trimmers.”  So I went back to the hoof shears.

I’m gonna describe the next 5 minutes as this:

(talking to myself and Tilla)

“Ok, girl, 1..2..3…oh gosh I can’t do it.”

“Ok, 1….2…ugggh I feel sick, I’m so sorry Tilla.”

“Ok, 1…2…maybe I should just take you to the vet.  How much could it cost really?”

“OK, seriously, this is going to hurt for a second but it is for your own good, I promise, I’m so sorry.”

Then, I got my nerve.  1….2….3…..BBBAAAAAAAAHHHHH!  She let out one long BAH that broke my heart into a million pieces.  And of course it was bleeding.  It looked like a bad horror film.  I had a clean towel and I just held it there, applying pressure because I have 1st Aide training and I know you have to apply pressure.  I was also becoming more sick to my stomach.  She was becoming less and less impressed with me.

It did finally stop bleeding.  I put medicine on it and got ready to put her back in her stall.  I was not prepared for how she was going to RUN AWAY when I let her out of the milking stanchion.  These goats are like dogs, they never run from us because they know we are food dispensers.  Well as soon as she took off, the horn hole started bleeding again.  You know how that is, heart rate goes up,  wound starts bleeding again.  To get her back I had to let her sisters out and then round them all up.  Since she wanted to be with her sisters and her sisters were not mad at me, I was able to get them all back in the stall.

It took me 4 days to become friends with her again.  I had to spend a lot of time coaxing and wooing.  I had to pet her and sit with her.  I had to be a safe person that didn’t hurt her over and over again for her to trust me again. In those quiet times of trying to make this goat love me again, Jesus spoke to my heart.  He said, “How many times have you and I been here Sarah.”

Scripture says that Jesus is the vine and God the father is the gardener.  Check it out:

John 15: 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

What I see here is the parallel of God pruning me and me having to “prune” Tilla’s horn.  That horn was eventually going to affect her eye and vision and would be bad for her.  Even though it was good for her, it hurt! There are things that God as my Father has to prune from my life so that I can better follow Him.  When a pruning comes it hurts.  Tilla and I both run when the pain comes, even though the pain was for our own good.

If you think for one second walking with the Lord is going to be all butterflies and rainbows you are dead wrong.  There is pain.  When God prunes something it hurts. The cool thing is that when he prunes some thing and you get over the pain and see that he has ultimately made it possible for the to produce more fruit and be more free you are thankful for the pruning.  There are pruning that I have thought would kill me dead, and I ran from God.  Every time He woos me back to Him.

In the same way that I had to be close to Tilla while she was bleeding and applying pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding, God is so close to me in the pain.  When I am metaphorically bleeding He is so near to me, holding me keeping the pressure on the wound.  As the bleeding slows down He turns to wooing me back to himself.  He gives me space to question and be hurt and scared.  Ultimately He loves me back to life (as my friend Celine Dion says).  He holds my hand while I take my first steps to trust His goodness again.

I trimmed Tilla’s horn because I love her and I wanted her to be able to see for her whole life. And this is how I know that God can prune and love me at the same time.  Pruning comes because He loves me.  He is not uninvolved in my life, He is in me.  He sees when something in my life will ultimately cause me problems.  He intervenes and cuts it out before it cause me to be fruitless.  As I saw that goat run from me I saw how ridiculous I am for running from God.  With Tilla I was like, “How can you run from me?  I built you a barn, I buy you food, I bought you a really nice trailer to take you to shows, and I gave you half of the property to roam on!  How do you not get that I am just taking care of you?”  And as I thought those things I heard God say, “I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!!!”

My prayer is that I grow to trust God more and more.  That the pain of pruning drives me to the Lord and not away from Him.  That I grow to never question His goodness, but trust His goodness.  He is in this to grow me to be a beautiful fruit producer, not a goat with a faux unicorn horn.

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Sydney and the girls. (L-R Pepper, Bree and Tilla)

What I learned about Jesus from the 1971 Mustang.

I am on a church camp high this week.  Jesus has been moving so clearly in my life that insufferable Jesus Freak Sarah is bubbling right under the surface this week.  I mean He showed up this week in personal ways, just for me, to show me He is fully present.  This Savior blows me away.  I can say things to Him like, “Are you here? Do you really see me?” and He answers me every time.  I am struck by how dumb this question is.  The clay pot made by the potter, looking up at the potter saying, “Are you here? Do you see me?”  The potter could say, “Dude, do you feel my hands around you molding you and shaping you?  Who do you think is doing that?  You dumb pot.”  But Jesus, the potter says, “Yes, pot, I am here, I have my hands around you and I am molding you, searching you for areas that need my attention,  I will never let you go because I made you and I am delighted with what I made, I also love to bless you!”  GGGAAHHHH! His word tells us this is true.  The Creator of the universe is the same person who is grooming me to look more like Jesus.  It makes me want to write down what He has done in me this week.

The week started with Jesse and I kicking off our first week of leading Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  This class is so special to us because it is the same one that we went through 6 years ago when we were in financial crisis.  As any good Christian wife does, I pray “God help me to respect Jesse the way you want me to.  Make him impressive to me, so I can be impressed by him the way You impress me, Lord.”  And HE DID.  Where I have had to micro-manage this class before to make sure everything would go off without a hitch, now stands a man who said, “Lady, I got this under control, get off my job.”  As always my first response to this was super holy and Godly, and I said something like, “yeah right, we’ll see about that.” But God worked on my thought process and asked me to pray for Jesse instead of critique him.  That is hard for me because critiquing Jesse is my spiritual gift.  But I tried, and I was encouraged by Jesus every step of the way.  In the end, I watched my husband start that class with a confidence I have never seen in him before.  He knew what he was going to say, was comfortable in front of the class, and funny (which I put a very high value on.)  I stood there humbled and amazed at what God has done in this man.  And I thanked God for him.  Did you hear me? I THANKED GOD IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT CLASS FOR THE MAN HE IS GROWING JESSE INTO.  I am so struck by this because when we first did this class I was not thankful for this husband of mine.  The fact that we have lived through our financial crisis and are able to lead other people though it is truly a miracle.  The fact that my heart can be thankful we went through all that is proof that God is real for sure.  Here is a brief history of Sarah and Jesse and money–a Greek tragedy.

So here’s the deal.  There is no reason why Jesse and I should have ever had money trouble.  We were blessed with a fully functioning portfolio that, placed in the proper hands, would have sustained a family for a lifetime.  We have parents who taught us how to be responsible. We took the MC Hammer route instead. (MC Hammer is a rapper that became rich really fast, spent it all and then had to declare bankruptcy.)  The reason we had money trouble is because we were two selfish people with no other desire when it came to money except to spend it.  And spend it we did.  We kept up with the Joneses, who we didn’t even know, but we were keeping up with them.  We were buying things, experiences, horses, cars, and crap to try to find what only God could give us.  I have mentioned before about that gaping hole in my chest. Well one attempt to fill that hole, meant only to be filled by God, was to fill it by spending money.  We were totally ill-equipped to manage the legacy that had been placed into our greedy hands.  I will give you a very unbiased picture of what happened–It was all Jesse’s fault.  Just kidding! If you have taken a Dave Ramsey class with us, you know I am the actual spender, Jesse is the saver, but lets just hold onto the fact that we were both to blame.  As it turns out, money problems could touch us…….(watch the video)

See what I did there? I crack myself up.  And yes, I can do that whole rap and dance, just ask me.

As God does, he used our circumstances to finally draw us to him.  Wanting more things, and making more and more purchases leaves you with one problem, no money left.  “No money left” hit us hard.  With no plan and jobs that didn’t pay us enough to sustain our spending, loans, and lifestyle, we hit rock bottom.  Our rock bottom did what it should do.  It made us change, and though we did not know it at the time, it was drawing us closer to the Lord.  For the first time ever we had to look at each other and decide how to solve the problem we had gotten ourselves into.  Our first step was to get help.  We had to take a family bail-out just so we didn’t lose our house.  We had to hire a financial planner to teach us what in the world to do to get out of the red.  Our only option was a major change and major fire sale. We had to sell everything that we could.  Cars, horse, house, barn, truck, trailer, crap, toys, clothes, shoes, and tools.  Essentially the lifestyle we had become accustomed to was over.  It was change, or live off our family for the rest of our lives.  So where there was a fancy house over in the fancy part of town, now there was a rental house on the affordable side of town.  Where there were fancy new cars, there were used cars.  Where there was excess, there was now a budget.  And this girl had to learn to make dinner so we could eat something other than mac-n-cheese, because the budget did not allow for eating out.

God used all of that to woo us to Him.  If we had not moved to the “affordable” side of town, I would not have met Autumn, who invited me to church, where eventually I got saved.  If I did not sell my barn, I would not have made the one hour commute to the barn in Aubrey allowing me to hear Dave Ramsey on the radio for the first time. Dave Ramsey told me that God had something to say about how I spend money.  If Jesse and I didn’t have to finally work together we would have continued to live separate lives using money as our companions.  If we had not had all the money stripped away we would have never realized that the money wasn’t the problem, we were.  Those are just a few examples of how God used our circumstances to get us to know Him.  The biggest one being that money was our god instead of Jesus.  We trusted money to save us, not God.  We trusted money to fill the gaping hole, not God.  We trusted money to make us happy and feel loved, not God.  This sweet Savior was not ok with us continuing to ignore Him.  He furiously ran us down, until we had to make a choice.  Love Jesus, or love money.  By some miracle of God we trusted Him and started to release our grip on money.  It took us 5 years to undo what we had done to ourselves.  It took being humiliated, and talked about as “the people who lost all their money” by supposed friends.  It took being crushed by our choices, to get us to finally do this money thing God’s way.

Because I am trying to get to a point, I will skip ahead to us attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for the first time.  For the first time we had a plan for money and how to spend it.  For the first time we were not using money to make us happy.  I say for the first time because it would take us starting the Dave Ramsey program THREE times before it actually stuck.  Sin nature would rear up every time.  A mix of budget summits, pie charts, intense negotiations, “I’m right!, No I’m right!”, finger-pointing, and intentionally blowing the budget ended up leading us to several false starts.  The flesh dies hard, sometimes it takes us down.  We had to see that rock bottom coming at us again to finally buckle down, be grown ups and submit to what God says about how to spend money.  We were getting to know the Lord and learning to start to trust Him in this area.  He encouraged us with little victories.  Those victories taught us to keep saying no to our flesh and to keep saying yes to God.

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So on this side of financial freedom it is important to us to lead these classes so other people are free too.  Money is not a good master, Jesus is a good master.  Debt is a slave driver that will have no mercy on you.  We are so blown away that people actually sign up for these classes because we know how hard it is to take that step.  We are also fully aware of our short-comings and realize only Jesus would use us to tell people about money.  He uses the most jacked up people because they know how badly they messed up with money.  This week when we started another class, we had the sweetest reminder of His faithfulness.

This car.  This car is just a car.  But this car represents a time when we did not know God.  This car is one of the things that got sold off in the great fire sale.  This car was Jesse’s dream car.  He drove it in parades (that is why it has City Bank on the side), he worked on it, he dreamed of things he would do to it and with it.  We originally bought it at The Cattle Barron’s Ball in Lubbock.  Jesse let me bid on it, so naturally I spent too much on it because that was my super power then.  During the great-sell off we knew we owed Jesse’s mom money for some horse stalls she gave us for my barn.  We called her and asked if she would take the mustang instead, and she said yes.  Little did we know that the real reason she did that was to hang on to it so someday Jesse could have it back. Those are the kind of things awesome moms do. Little did we know God had a plan for it too. At the time we were just thrilled we had settled another debt, we didn’t care why she wanted it.

This week, the same week we started another Dave Ramsey class, we got this car back.  You can’t tell me that is not the Lord.  You can’t tell me that God is not all over that to encourage us.  You can’t tell me that God does not love to bless His children in the sweetest most personal ways.  Once this car was a tool we used to settle a debt, now it is a reminder of God’s faithfulness.  God promises to meet our every need.  We didn’t know that because we trusted money to meet our every need.  As we got to know the Lord we learned to put money in its place, a resource God will use in our lives to bring Him Glory.  Nothing more, nothing less.  We had to start living by God’s principles for money.  As we said no to our desire to trust money to meet our needs and asked God to meet our needs we crawled toward financial freedom.  We are at place right now where we are free of debt and have a place to put a project car like this.  That is a MIRACLE.  Hear me when I say I am not patting us on the back.  I am giving Jesus a high-five for rescuing us!  We had to let go of this car to get it back in a way that brings God glory. Even the way it got here is a blessing.

When we were in Lubbock for Johnny’s funeral I caught Jesse and Brock out in my Mother in law’s garage looking over the mustang.  They talked almost all the way to Sweetwater about what they would do to the mustang if they had it back.  It was an “if” conversation for sure.  Then Jesse talked for some time about how Johnny left the legacy of how to build things with Jesse, and Jesse wanted to leave that same legacy with Brock.  He wanted to teach our kids the importance of pursing you passion and letting God use it for His glory.  That planted a seed in my heart.  You see, I am the best wife in the world.  Seriously I should win an award.  I decided that I would try to buy this car back from my Mother in law for my guys for Valentines day.  I was able to make this decision because we are finally in a position where Jesse could have a project car again. I called my mother in law a week later and asked if I could buy it back.  That’s when God started to show off.  I say he started to show off because my mother in law’s response was, “Sarah, that has alway’s been Jesse’s car and you don’t have to buy it back from me.”  What?!? Then as we started to discuss how to get it here, she decided to just bring it down here to us.  WHAT?!? So I don’t even have to go to Lubbock to get it?  My mother in law is amazing, yes, but God used her to bless us beyond measure.  So Monday afternoon this beauty showed up.  As the best wife in the world I was so excited to see how Jesse reacted.  He couldn’t even talk, He just said, “How did you do that, and how much did it cost?”  He is a saver to his core.  Maybe it’s because I am a girl, maybe it’s because of my flare for drama, but it is not just a car anymore.

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Where there used to be a car, bought to try to fill a hole, there is a car where a father and son will get to work to make it run, driveable and cool.  A father will pass on to his son the skills he is passionate about.  Most importantly a father will teach his son that this car represents a time when he did not trust the Lord, and then a time when he did trust the Lord and the Lord blessed him.  He will tell his son that making a car work can be a skill God will use to bless someone, and making a car cool can tip over into worshiping the car.  These are all lessons Jesse has learned, and lived out.  As a fellow believer in Christ I love to see Jesus bless Jesse and encourage him in this personal way.  As someone who has struggled with materialism it is cool to see God say, “It’s not the stuff, it’s the heart posture, stay focused on Me, and have fun with this car.”  For me I look at this car and see God’s faithfulness to us.  He promised us that if we would trust Him he would meet all our needs.  That is the understatement of the century.  If we trust Him we enter into the sweetest relationship in the universe.  The Good, Good Father, meets our needs but also blesses us in such personal ways.  The Creator of the universe cared that we were worshiping money and not Him and pursued us to teach us that Jesus is better.

Jesus is better.  I read a book this week that is centered around that theme.  It is “If You Only Knew,” by Jamie Ivey.  Even that book was a personal blessing for me because she talks about how to live in a vulnerable way.  Moments that have led me to think this blog is a joke were washed away because God used her story to encourage me to keep writing about what God is doing in my life.  Telling people what God has done, taught and lead us through brings God glory.  Even writing about how we have done things wrong, but Jesus is right, brings God glory.  And the tears come, because Jesus is better.  I cry because He shows me His loving-kindness when I look back.  When I see where we were and where we have come from.  When I look up and see that I am married to a Godly man who loves the Lord enough to stand up to me and say, “Lady, I got this, back off!” When I look up and see that money doesn’t have any control over me anymore.  When I look up and see that I get to use what God has given us to bless other people.  Jesus is better, just like Jamie says in her book.  Jesus is so much better.  We didn’t get ourselves out of financial trouble, Jesus saved us.  We don’t live generously becasue we are so great, we live generously becasue Jesus changed our hearts.  I don’t write this blog because I need more attention, I write it so that Jesus gets more attention in my life.  Jesus is better.

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A week of reflections.

As with any week, I guess, this one didn’t turn out how I planned in so many ways.  There were high points and low points.  We are getting ready to start raising chickens.  My mother-in-law happens to be a chicken expert and a master builder.  She came down to build us a chicken coop.  Of course she had to delay her trip because our disease fest last week, but she came in on Friday.  A few days into her trip we found out that Papaw Johnny, her father, had died.  Obviously this was devastating to all of us.  Papaw has been such a constant in our lives.  Always working on something, fixing things, driving HUGE machinery around and locking anything that was unlocked.  I loved him dearly and the week turned into one of refection, even in the midst of building a chicken coop.

Saturday morning Sue and I got up and went to Lowes to get supplies.  She brought plans for us to build it from scratch.  She has one of those architectural engineering brains that sees plans and then also sees how to improve them.  The job was a big one for sure.  I looked at the plans and thought to myself, dear God, that looks intimidating.  But I like things to be unique and special and “from scratch” so I was happy to help in any way I could.  We were two women on mission!

So I have to take a pause and let you know a little about me and my mother in law.  If our family were giving out superlatives mine would be “Most likely to not want to do it the easy way,” and Sue’s would be “Most likely to build it from scratch exactly how she wants it.” We are some of the most determined people you have ever met.  She and I would travel to horse shows together and we would care for, make show ready, feed, and clean up after three horses.  Not to mention we have driven about 30,000 miles to all sorts of shows together.  And for Sue’s part she has designed and built at least three houses, totally built an equestrian center from the ground up, not to mention ran it herself.  So the point is, we are the kind of people who decide we want to do something and do it, our way.  Knowing that about us makes this next part so amazing.

We had to go to Tractor Supply after Lowe’s to get a few other things and to start figuring out an outdoor structure for the chickens to scratch in.  We pull up and they have these coop’s set up out front.  We start looking at one to see how the scratching pen is set up, and then we start looking at the coop part.  And then the amazing part.  We look at each other and say at exactly the same time, “What if we just bought a coop kit?”  I think we both said it a little trepidatiously because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and she didn’t wan to disappoint me.  Putting that aside we went in to find out if they had any more.  Long story short.  They had a great one that Sue thought she could re-engineer to make work for us.  This huge pivot was a big deal for us.  Now we didn’t know it at the time but it was actually God’s providential care over us because we didn’t know our time together to build this thing would be cut short.  I am thankful for that.IMG_0844

This led to the best Griffith Saturday in a long time.  Our foreman, Sue, deciphered the instructions and got us organized.  Then with the unity of the military we all worked together, one step after another and we built that coop!  Sydney and Brock learned from Sue how to use a power drill.  And then of course Brock kept trying to drill things that didn’t need to be fastened, but it was all a learning experience.  The dogs made it exciting by taking wood pieces that we needed and running off with them.  They like to test me to see how close they can get to watching me murder one of them.  As we were working I found myself thanking God for giving me Sue.  Thanking Him for gifting her with the ability to build and see how things should come together.  That thankfulness did what it should do and lead me to reflect on what God has done in our relationship and in all my  relationships in general.

In my BC life there were no rules in my relationships with people.  It was simply who was right and who had the power.  I got good at being right and telling everyone I was right until they would back down.  The problem with this is that it doesn’t lead to unity.  It leads to someone being in charge and someone being a subordinate.  The power struggle leads to fights and the fights lead to splits in relationships. With no agreed upon rule book the rightness and power struggle eventually took its toll.  I also was under the assumption that how I did things was the right and only way to do things.  I was trying to exercise my will on everyone around me.  I am sorry to say that I have been really awful to my mother-in-law in the past.  It was about getting my way and furthering my cause.  Of course I loved her and loved becoming part of the family, but operating under the delusion that I was doing everything right doesn’t help you see the good in other people.

After Christ came into my life I started to learn that God had some things to say about relationships and how a believer should conduct themselves with other people.  As He started to mold and shape me He also started to break down my pride.  My pride told me I was right, and did everything right, and no one else held the same rightness that I held.  What a jerk!  Humility was a foreign word to me, but that word was used over and over in the bible.  As I started to study His word He started to address my pride, and by address I mean pulverize it into a million pieces.  Take a look at what God says relationships should look like:

Philippians 2: 1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013. Print.

Man! I just love that! It’s a rule book for relationships.  Now Paul is specifically speaking about relationships with other believers but I don’t think we can go wrong if we adopt it in all our relationships.  Power struggles and rightness have no place in relationships that honor God.

I love that when I struggle with pride in my relationships, God, like a sharp-shooter, shoots a huge hole in all my “go-to” power plays.  Selfishly want my way?  God says “Don’t be selfish.”  Impress others with my rightness?  God says “Don’t try to impress others.”  Think I am better at life than everyone else?  God says “Be humble, think of others as better than yourself.”  Obsessed about myself? (how am I doing? how am I feeling? how do I feel about any number of situations? am I right? am I wrong?)  God says “Don’t just look out for your own interest but take an interest in others.”  The coolest thing about God’s ideas for relationships is that they bring unity to every relationship.

So how do I choose humility? How do I let go of pride and choose to put others first?  I have no idea.  All I know is that because I have a relationship with Christ I have the power to choose God’s way and I have the power to say no to my pride.  Without Him I can only do it the way the world does, power-struggles and rightness.  For me it’s putting one foot in front of the other and taking those baby steps toward humility and away from pride.  The incentive for me is that Jesus did this.  You see in that passage above that He gave up His claim to God-ness and Glory and humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross to save us.  In its most basic form I think “Well if He can do that, and he asks me to be humble I will give it shot, it must be important to Him.”

I read a quote from C.S Lewis this summer and it really showed me where I am trying to get to with this humility thing.  Check it out:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.  Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.  If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily.  He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 128

As with everything I do when it comes to God’s commands, I read that passage in Philippians about humility and thought, “Oh, I got this, imma be the most humblest person I know.”  The problem with managing your own humility instead of letting God teach you about humility is that you turn into a really self-centered insecure person.  I fell into a ditch of always monitoring myself to make sure I was coming across humble.  I was putting myself down when I talked to other people.  Honestly that fake humility is what kept me from writing, until now.  When I read that quote from C.S. Lewis I nearly hit my knees thanking God for the clarity about humility.  And that is why I say I don’t know how to be humble.  Instead of reading that passage and saying, “Oh I got this,” I am saying, “Oh God, I don’t got this, please teach me.”  I just know I have the power to choose humility and a God who will teach me how to be humble.  And thanks to C.S. Lewis I know it starts with thinking about others more than I think about myself.

And so to bring all this humility talk back to relationships, Godly relationships require humility.  When I start taking interest in others I start to see God at work in them.  I start to see how God made them.  I start to see that maybe they have something to teach me.  One thing I have learned is that Godly relationships are the meat and potatoes of the Christian life.  I have learned more about God and myself through pursing unity with people than I think any bible study has ever taught me.  I say it is the meat and potatoes because you can know all you want to about God, but if you can’t walk out what He teaches about having Godly relationships you really don’t get that life-changing relationship with Him.  To avoid coming off hypocritical, let me add that there are still many relationships in my life that do not reflect my belief in Christ.  That is where the sifting will come, and my pride will be broken down even more because God wants me to be humble and unified in all my relationships.

And so, back to the chicken coop.  As I was working with my mother in law I was practicing choosing humility.  I was trying to put her wants before my own, I was practicing taking an interest in her.  I was practicing not being absorbed in myself.  I was amazed at what God showed me.  I watched a woman in her element.  I watched a woman exercising the gifting she was given.  I watched her hands move so carefully over the tools, so precise.  I watched her stop and give instruction to her grandchildren with patience and joy.  I watched her smile and cheer them on as they learned how to use the tools.  I watched her think though things and plan the next step.  I watched her work methodically with an attention to detail that I could only dream of.  I watched her stand back and admire what she had accomplished, and I was so thankful for this woman, in a way I have never felt before.  Below are some examples of her handy work.

I then got to watch this woman receive the news that her beloved father had died.  She was so strong and so brave.  Her husband and brother encouraged her to stay here because there really wasn’t anything for her to do at home.  We have known Johnny would pass sometime soon, and everything had been planned for a while.  There was nothing for her to do at home except for wait for the funeral, so she stayed with us.  I watched her go back to work on the chicken coop.  She even baked some bread that will be the death of me because it is so good!  She said that she needed to be busy.  I watched her grieve for her father and I loved her the best way I knew how.

She said to me one day that Papaw Johnny was the one who taught her everything she knew about building.  She said she felt like he was with her when she was building.  The funny thing is Jesse said the same thing.  Papaw Johnny was very important to Jesse.  He and Johnny spent many hours tinkering and building.  Johnny was the first person Jesse shared his faith with.  It is our biggest comfort right now to know, as a result of that conversation, that Johnny had put his faith in Christ.  We know he is in heaven with Jesus.  Jesse and I have been warmed by the thought that Johnny gets to tinker with anything he wants now without cancer and Alzheimer’s to slow him down.  Praise Jesus for saving him.

I then got watch Jesse and Sue work together.  Two people grieving for someone they loved so much, and doing the very thing he taught them both how to do.  It was really beautiful and I felt like it really honored Johnny’s memory.  I feel like this chicken coop is not just a chicken coop anymore.  It feels more like a tribute to Johnny.  I love you Papaw, thank you for always smiling at me and giving me a hug.  Thanks you for always making sure the barn was locked and the horses were in out of the weather.  Thank you for always watching the road to be sure no shady characters drove up at night.  Thank you for teaching Jesse to be a useful worker and for making him so capable.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us.  Thank you for always saying yes when I needed some hay moved or some dirt harrowed.  Most of all thank you for welcoming me into the family the way you did.  I miss you so much.  Tell Jesus HI for me.

Everything I know about life I learned from my daughters’ goats.

Do you remember those posters from the 90’s.  It was like “everything I know about life I learned from my kids,” or “everything I know about life I learned from my dog.”  Well this is the goat edition.

First, I want to say that I am going to make comparisons between myself and the goats.  Here is why that is ok.  There are three ways that we can get to know the Lord.  His creation, His word and our experience with Him.  His creation is meant to cause us to be in awe of Him and to see his handy work.  His word is where we get to know His story.  Our experience with Him is how we learn to be in a relationship with Him.  When I am dealing with some of the animals He created I reminded of things that He teaches me in His word.  I know that probably sounds like a very simplistic mentality, but for me when I am paying attention to creation and created things around me what I know in my brain about the Lord comes alive to me.  So yes, I am going to compare myself to a goat.  Ya know what else, God compares me to a goat too.  In His word He calls us His sheep.  Sheep/goat, there is not much difference.  So stick with me.

Proverbs 3:21-26 has been bouncing around in my brain since I read it a few days ago.  It says, My Son, let them not depart from your eyes–Keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.  Do not be afraid of sudden terror, not of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.  I love how God tells us that if we keep wisdom and discretion in the front of our mind we will have sweet sleep.  Wisdom is acknowledging that God is God and discretion comes with walking with the Lord.  For me, when I try to be God in my own life my sleep goes right out the window.  When I remember I am not God, and God is God I have sweet sleep, easy! (And everyone laughed and laughed because it is not easy to remember you are not God.)   But that is not the part of the scripture I want to write about tonight.

Look at the part of  that scripture where it says “Do not be afraid of sudden terror, not of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”

crazy-goat1.jpeg

Look at that sweet girl!  Totally unafraid and confident.  I took this the day after we had a really nasty cold snap.  (nasty cold snap in TX means it was 28, don’t hate us because we are warm down here)  The goats were jumping around, running, leaping and playing, loving every minute of freedom.  They were sure their foot would not be caught!  Now here is the problem, they had complete confidence in themselves.  Let me show you what happens when they are really confident in themselves.

Sydney came in from the barn this morning and said that the girls had a sorority party in the barn.  Apparently they made the confident decision to open their stall door and trash their beautiful barn, their stockpiled hay, peed all over everywhere, tried to break into their grain can and finally pushed the cabinet over to get to the animal crackers. (yes, goats eat animal crackers, yes, it’s ironic I know, I didn’t make the rules)  Let me show you what the barn normally looks like so you can really feel the magnitude of the situation.

See there, contained goats, clean barn.  Now basically, and don’t tell Sydney this, but, I have been watching them all day waiting for them to keel over.  I mean, they ate so much food last night!  If they were horses they would for sure be dead. (or at least need a $10,000.00 surgery)  Surprise, surprise they are still alive.  For sure they were worn out from their night-time adventures, they looked a little hung over and sick to their little goat stomachs.  But, they pulled through.  They were confident in themselves and made a decision that did not serve them well. The fall out from their party was that Sydney and I spent 2 hours cleaning the barn after school today.  We were cleaning up after someone else’s bad decision.

And here comes the comparison.  I have confidence in myself and make decisions all the time that don’t serve me well or that leave fall out for someone else to clean up. I get all, “Girl Power!” or “I Got This!” or “CHARGE!” and full steam ahead I do something…….please see exhibit A:

Wait for it….

 

 

 

Get ready:

 

 

 

BOOM!!!!

youngsarah

Yes, I did! I confidently decided to cut my own bangs, and then hair spray them straight back.  Look, the 80’s happened to all of us.  Thank the Lord that Rachel’s hair on Friends showed up in the 90’s to save us all from ourselves.  Anyway, with absolute confidence in myself I walked into that picture day knowing I NAILED it!  The fall-out is that my parents had to hang this on their wall for a whole year!

I am confident in myself.  I do things all the time based on my own confidence level.  I sign up for things I can’t really commit to because I am so confident in myself.  I say yes to things based on if I think I can do them.  I don’t do things I don’t think I can do.  I have a confidence that would make Julie Andrews proud.

Now listen, I’m not hating on Julie Andrews because let’s be honest, if you know me at all you know I want to be like her, or Celine Dion.  I’m just saying, what happens when you have all the confidence in the world in yourself and things still go terribly wrong?

As I study that proverb from above I see the glaring problem.  It says, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and He will keep your foot from being caught. The Lord will be your confidence, He will keep your foot from being caught.  I have to be confident in the Lord.  The Lord is the one who will keep me from being afraid and will keep me from getting caught.  Confidence in myself only leads me to lean on my own strength, as I have shown you, I cannot be trusted.  (see picture above)  The confidence that I get to draw on comes from the Lord.  I have Jesus to be confident in.  He is perfect, and strong, and doesn’t make mistakes.  He also wants me to know Him.  Just to drive the point home for me, the Lord put this Psalm in my path today:

For you will light my lamp;

The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

For by you I can run against a troop,

by my God I can leap over a wall.

As for God, His way is perfect;

The word of the Lord is proven;

He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the Lord?

And who is a rock, except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength,

AND MAKES MY WAY PERFECT.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer(or goats),

and sets me on my high places.

He teaches my hands to make war,

so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

Psalm 18: 28-34

For someone who has been struggling with feeling like a joke and identifying with naughty goats, that Proverb and this Psalm were music to my ears.  Do you see that? By My God I can leap over a wall for My God is perfect.  Who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  JESUS, I LOVE YOU!!!! Thank you for being my confidence and strength.  Thank you that I don’t have to rely on myself but that You are my ROCK!

 


A word on that word perfect because that can be a trap for me.  I read perfect and I think my path will be without mistakes and “right.”  Well let me tell you that is not how God thinks of perfect.  His ways are so much greater than ours and He is in the business of teaching us about His perfectness.  So a perfect path for us is one that shows us our imperfections and points us to His perfectness.  Those bumps on our perfect path make us realize our need for the perfect savior.


 

So as I read back over this I think, “Gosh this flies in the face of everything our culture teaches.”  We are the “be confident in yourself” generation.  Self-esteem ranks higher than truth.  “Everyone wins,” “I’m gonna be me,” and “YOLO” have taken the day.  Well let me tell you something, I lived that life and it is a LIE.  Putting confidence in yourself will disappoint you every time.  You will wake up like the goats did, in an alfalfa induced hang over wondering where it all went wrong.  I’m writing this to my own kids now.  Brock and Sydney,  put yourself aside and follow the Lord.  Don’t follow your heart, you can’t trust it.  It will lead you to do things based on your own strength and try to fix things that only the Lord can fix. The Lord is the only one you can trust.  Your very life depends on it.  It will take humility, you will have to admit that you are not perfect and that God is.  Do it!  It is so worth it.  He will be your lit path, He will enlighten the darkness and He will be your rock.  This world and our culture is sand, Who is a rock except our God?  Be confident in the Lord.