Happy Anniversary!! Can we go to the city dump?

Well 16 years of marriage looks like this:  We got up yesterday morning and gave each other a good morning kiss, wished each other a happy anniversary, had some coffee and then loaded up our trailer full of farm trash and headed to the dump.

Have you ever been to dump?  Don’t laugh at me but I have never been to a real live operating dump.  Did you know that archeologists look for the city dump first and foremost when they discover a new dig site?  They say it is because you can tell so much about a culture based on their trash.  This also means that since the dawn of time we as humans knew that you had to have a separate place to put your trash.  Do you know why?  Because trash is gross.  I have a whole new respect for our trash disposal system.  I also understand why trash “strikes” are so debilitating for city’s.  I’m like, “Dudes of the city counsel, pay them whatever they want because they have the power to set us into a dirty anarchy.”

On my anniversary every year I always reflect on where we have come from and I am always so thankful that we made it another year and we didn’t give up.  We almost did give up and only because Jesus got a hold of our hearts, are we still married.  As we drove to the dump it occurred to me that marriage maintenance is like a trip to the dump.  There is a-lot of messy stinky garbage that we bring into our marriages and if you don’t take it to the dump it stays in your house and festers and stinks everything up until you can’t stand the smell anymore and you want out.

I will say this, someone who has been married 16 years has no business giving marriage advice to anyone because 16 years still falls under that, “we are still working out the right way to put the toilet paper on the holder, which way is the right way to load the dishwasher, and who is going to get the mail everyday.”  Also I make a point to never make declarations of “Here is how to make a marriage work” because that crap will come back and bite you in the butt faster than anything else!  Me saying “To make a marriage work you have to respect your husband,” equals me coming home to find my husband cutting hole in the drywall with his Dremel Tool to test my resolve to respect him.  No thanks.  But I did have some thoughts about stuff I had to take the dump so they would not stink up my marriage.

  1. Take your expectations to the dump:  I expect him to treat me like a Disney prince treats a Disney princess.  I expect him to know that he hurt my feelings by not knowing I expect him to be home for dinner at 6.  I expect him to to know the exact right thing to say every single time I ask him a question.  Expectations are the root of most of my disappointment.  Assumptions and expectations are not what a good marriage is built on.  Communication is what good marriages needs.  If I have the thought, “How do you not know that I wanted you to do that?”  I know I have an expectation that needs to go to the dump.
  2. Take talking bad about your husband to other women to the dump:  This is the breeding ground for critical and disrespectful feelings toward your husband.   Don’t join in when women start ripping their husbands apart.  Don’t say “I just have to vent.”  Take that crap to the dump.  Those words will sit with you and fester and you will start to notice all the things that drive you nuts about your man.  If you need help, or to talk through something do it with a woman who will point you toward Jesus, not man hating.
  3. Don’t even think about divorce, take that word to the dump:  I let this word creep in a few years ago and guess what happened?  I finally got so mad a Jesse that I kicked him out.  Thankfully God restored our marriage and we got back together.  That word will create a space in your mind that is an escape hatch.  Marriage is no joke and hard work but it is worth it to the end, don’t hit eject.  Get that word out of your house.  I thank God everyday for the fact that I didn’t follow through with my divorce.  I would have missed this amazing guy that I am married to now.  God can fix it, I promised.
  4. Giving only “whats left” to your husband? Take that to the dump:  You know what was crazy in my marriage?  When I started putting Jesse before the kids, friends and hobbies I found out I actually really liked him.  When I didn’t have time for him he became a guy who lived in my room with me and didn’t put the toilet paper on the holder the right way.  When I started working on making sure he knew I preferred him to everything else he showed up for our relationship.  When he knew I really needed him he started to care about what was going on with finances, house stuff, kid stuff.  When I put the kids back in their rightful place below him, they started to respect him too.  It’s a beautiful thing.  He should get my best, not my left overs.  Remember, kids will leave, husbands are for life.

It is really so worth all the hard work.  I am so much more in love with Jesse today than I was the first day of our honeymoon.  I think on July 21 st, 16 years ago I was mad at him because all he wanted to do was sleep in.  I was like “who sleeps in?  You have to break into the day and grab ahold life it’s already 5:30 am!”  Well guess who was sleeping in on this July 21st, that’s right Jesse.  It turns out people do sleep in.  Being married to a morning person was one of those expectations that had to go to the dump.

All joking aside though, Happy Anniversary Jes.  I’m so glad we are still together.  I love our life and our marriage.  You are my perfect guy.  I’m proud of you and proud to be your wife.  You are exactly the right person for me.  I thank God for you.

 

The Chicken Run

Here I am again observing behavior in my animals that reminds me of my own real life issues.

These chickens.   Please enjoy this video.  (Also lets give a round of applause to Jesse for helping me with this video.  He was on his way to work and I said, “Please! I need you to open the door so I can video the chickens today!  It will take two minutes!  I promise!”  Well, he changed shoes and headed to the barn only to be met with the fact that the dogs were fighting over a dead rat that Gizmo killed.  It is hard to get a kill away from them, but you learn to do it or else you see that rat again at 2 AM because they are throwing it up on your bedroom floor.  Can I get an AMEN? So the whole video-ing thing took longer than two minutes, sorry honey!)

 

Ok so, my point is this.  These chickens squawk at me while I am letting my sweet duck out, while I am feeding the baby goats, and they squawk at me while I am feeding the big goats.  They use their most impressive voices and puff out there chest all in an attempt to intimidate me into opening their coop first.  To which I say, “You are not the boss of me and until you can use kind words you will be last to get let out.”  To which they say, “SQUAWK!” because they don’t care that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.  They are geared up, jockeying for position and biting each other to get out the door first.  Then, when I finally open the door,  OFF THEY RUN!  I was watching them a few days ago and just wondered where are they going in such a rush?  They don’t have a plan or direction they just follow each other and run.  They are just “in a hurry to get things done,” like Alabama sings about.  And then you know WHO whispered in my ear, “weren’t you just praying about feeling rushed, and you didn’t know why?”

Oh my gosh, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My natural bent is to be like the chickens.  Just running with no direction.  No real destination but dammit I’m making good time.

My thoughts are like the chicken run.

My plans are like the chicken run.

My comfort zone is the chicken run.

“Just go, just get it done, faster, more stuff, business, don’t stop,” are what makes up the chorus of my theme song, in my natural state of being.

But Jesus, Jesus comes in and gets in the way of my chicken run and says, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”  “My daughter, you cannot walk in the Spirit and do the chicken run. A fruit of the spirit is self-control, and another is peace, when I see you running the chicken race you look like you are walking in the flesh because I see selfish ambitions, jealousies and bursts of wrath from you, turn around and follow me back to walking in the Spirit because that is a safer place for you.”  Over and over again He reminds me of this.  Over and over again I have gotten lost in the flesh that tells me go faster, work harder, fight more, get ahead of everyone else, and over and over he gets in my way and looks me in the eyes and says, “Stop being a chicken running for no reason, you are a daughter of the King, not a chicken.”

And so, I try to go back to walking in the Spirit.  And I try to capture the thoughts that tell me “hurry up!”  In fact, in God’s humor, or in His good Mercy He gave me a husband who can’t stand to be told “HURRY UP!”  And just to be sure I got the joke, He gave me two kids who actually freeze up when you shout, “HURRY UP!”  (Side note: both of my kids had to have speech intervention because of stuttering.  And BOTH speech pathologists said, “Mrs. Griffith, they don’t start stuttering until you get here.  You HAVE to stop when they are talking to you and look them in the face, otherwise they feel too hurried to get the words out. Got it, thanks!)

What I have learned is that walking in the Spirit is not the absence of “things to do.”  If it was as easy as “do-less-stuff” everyone would do that.  (one more side note:  You know what my most hated phrase is?  “Stop doing so much stuff!”  Oh my gosh, thank you, you just solved all my problems!  Why didn’t I think of that?  I’ll just sit here and do less stuff, but can you do me a favor?  When my head blows up from my anxiety will you mop up the floor?  Because we have already established that we don’t need to let the dogs eat things like that.  Great, thank you.)

Walking in the Spirit is this beautiful dance of learning how to just be with God and let Him direct your steps.  Now some people are going to read that and go, “Oh really? It must be nice to just let the wind blow you one way or another, but I have a job and responsibilities and things I have to do.  But that is exactly what I mean.  It is this awareness in your daily life of the Spirit.  I am learning that when I have that feeling of “Hurry up!” that is when I look to the Lord.  I say to Him, “Lord I don’t want to do the chicken run, help me re-center and not just be running for no reason.”  I do this over and over and over.  I am turning into a “hurry up” detective in my own life.  I am starting to become repulsed by being in a hurry.  I as myself, “Am I running the chicken race here?” That is all Jesus prompting me, and teaching me how to get out of the chicken race.  The schedule has not changed but the heart has.  And when the heart changes that makes all the difference.  Say no the chicken race!  SQUAWK!!!

Sojourn Farm, where dinosaur’s still roam the earth.

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WHAT THE HELL??? Did you know this was a real thing?  This is an alligator snapping turtle.  I believe they originate in HELL!!! This type of turtle got one of our sweet ducks this week.  How do I know it was this resident of Hell that got her?  Because I saw the jerk eating her!!!  It was all very traumatic and I am so sad that our female duck was eaten.

When I saw her laying out in the water I knew it was bad.  Mostly because our ducks don’t go in the pond.  They are love to stand on the shore line and root around in the mud for bugs.  Downton never goes in the water and Cora only goes deep enough to float. They are more into pools and water troughs and things they can see the bottom of.  I made Sydney row out in a kayak and retrieve her body.  Somebody asked me yesterday, “You made Sydney row out there knowing that turtle was in there?”  My answer is, “Yes, yes I did.”  Don’t judge my parenting.  The ducks are my favorite animals and I was not going to leave Cora out there for that dinosaur to eat all day long at his leisure.  It’s not like I made Sydney swim out to get her body.  She had a very sturdy kayak from Costco.  We are not dealing with JAWS here.  As she paddled out I literally thought to myself, “I have my Dave Ramsey Emergency Account fully funded and I will spend every dime of that to save her if there is any chance.”  Well, God heard that and when Sydney finally made it to shore it was clear that there was no chance.  That bastard turtle reached out of the water and snapped her neck.  At least she didn’t suffer but I have a message for the turtle…..

Change “Mandarin” to “Alligator Snapping Turtle”

And another one….. Change “my father” to “my sweet Cora.”

 

I don’t know what Jurassic Park movie you escaped from but your time is up dude.  I have friends with guns, dynamite and one friend that said she would watch the pond from a dear stand…the point is we are coming for you.  Did you enjoy your Duck a la’orange because that was your last meal.

Anyway, the fall out from this loss was one very sad little buddy who had lost his wife.  We comforted him with Kale and a swim in the water trough.  I was ready to hope in the car and drive to Tyler to pick up some ducklings I found on Craig’s List so he would not be lonely.  Jesse put the kabash on that with the point of, “Don’t you think we need to get rid of that turtle first?  I mean otherwise we are just feeding it.”  Right, good point.  And this is why the Lord put us together.  It broke my heart to see him all alone in his little duck hut eating bugs.  I know that animals don’t feel things like us.  I was ready to walk out of Jurassic World when they animated the dinosaur to look like he had a tear rolling down his face.  (Come on!  Reptiles have to lick their eyeballs to keep them moist!)  But when I saw Downton out there calling for her my heart broke.  Also I was so sad that we wouldn’t have anymore duck eggs.  My whole Egg slogan is “Sojourn Farm Fresh Eggs: Every Dozen includes a luck duck egg.” (Credit to my dad for that slogan)  Now we would have to start all over again.

But then, the morning after her death, there was a duck egg in the duck hut!  Now, I had not had any coffee yet so I wasn’t thinking clearly, but my mind went to, “Oh my gosh, she is back from the dead!”  Then I went to, “Oh I bet its a rogue chicken egg.”  I asked Syd if there were any chickens in the Duck Hut when she fed, and she said no.  So then I started to ponder everything I knew about my Jumbo Pekin Male Duck named Downton…..

Side bar, I have a Batchelor’s of science in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Animal Science from Texas Tech University.  I took two poultry classes.  I had to sex poultry in that class.  So why I did not actually check Downton’s sex, is beyond me.  All I can say is that he acted like a dude, he was dude sized and I caught him “on top” of her twice.  Now if living in this day and age has taught me anything it’s that you cannot assume someones gender by the traditional context clues.  Here I was gender profiling Downton.

So as it turns out, Downton is just a bossy, butch, big-boned lady who likes to assert her dominance by jumping on other ducks.  Sydney looked up a video on how to sex Pekin’s just to be doublely sure.  So now our slogan still works because Downtinina is still laying an egg everyday.  I have apologized profusely for congratulating Cora on here egg laying ability this whole time when it was Downinique the whole time!  She also has recovered from losing her “friend.”  She still goes down the shore of the pond like her and Cora use to do, but Downanna has never gone in the water.  We use to tease her about that, turns out she knew something we did know.  We are working on feminizing her name.  The problem is she already comes to Downton.  So that is a whole mess, but I don’t know how to fix it yet.

We are really sad to lose Cora.  And we really are going to have to do something about that dinosaur because I don’t want him getting our swimming Corgi.  Not sure what the plan is for sure, but that pond eco system has gone unchecked long enough.  If we have learned anything from the Jurassic movies it’s that messing with nature is always a good idea.  I’m sure there will be more blogs posts about it.  For now, we are just thrilled that we still get a duck egg everyday.

We are officially a FARM!

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We have an EGG!!!  With the discovery of this EGG Sojourn Farm is officially a farm.  (Dad, stop calling it a petting zoo!)  Now, there was some confusion as to who this egg belongs to.  This egg came into the world amidst animal habitat confusion and many animal complaints.  Here are the facts.  This egg was found in the duck hut.  So you would think we could assume it was a duck egg.  Not so fast.  About two days before this egg showed up, the chickens claimed the duck hut as their own, the ducks claimed the back yard as their own, the big goats claimed the barn as their own, and the baby goats claimed the living room as their own, and the dogs were hiding in Sydney’s room.  The humans who live here were left to pick up the pieces.

With the discovery of the egg, I decided to try to let everyone sort this out.  But the next day things got worse.  I found two eggs in the duck hut.  Downton and I also had to chase the chickens out of the duck hut that night.  They had really started to stake a claim.  I put all my Poultry 101 class knowledge to work.  (I majored in animal science for two years, until we had to slaughter cattle I was all in.)  I figured the chickens had out grown their coup.  I don’t mean to body shame anyone here but our coup says it can fit 12 chickens.  Ah-hem, our chickens must be super-sized because they stopped fitting in the coup a few weeks ago.  We tried to make the best of it and put a roosting bench outside in their scratching pen.  The problem with chickens is that, well, they are chicken.  They are scared of everything and only feel safe at night when they are all together up off the ground.  They were telling us that they were unsatisfied with their house by taking over the duck hut. Saturday morning we set out to rectify the situation.

We took the duck hut, which is actually a dog kennel and moved it into the barn where the original chicken coup was.  We (Jesse) re-engineered the door out to the scratching pen so they could get their chubby rumps in and out easily.  Now the scratching pen is more of a vestibule at this point because they are in there long enough to yell at me in the morning to let them out.  Once free, they roam the whole property like they own the place.   They do have a scratching pen though, in case I have to keep them locked up.  I can’t imaging the chicken profanity that would cause.

We then took the original chicken coup and moved it over to the other side of the barn.  We turned it into the new duck hut.  We had to entice them with something good because they really love the back yard.  I don’t know if you are familiar with ducks but they are way more messy than dogs, so I don’t want them in the backyard around the pool.  Jesse cut a hole in the barn wall to make a way from them to have the coup and a little scratching pen.  We also had to engineer a way for Downton to keep the chickens out of his pen.  Downton totally remembers when he and the chickens lived together as chicks.  He just wanted to be friends and the chickens shunned him because of his big feet.  So now he and his wife have nothing to do with them.  We are working on loving your neighbor around here.  We also needed to keep them separated so we could solve the mystery of the eggs.

A side note on Downton and Cora.  They have a huge pond that they could live in and swim in.  When they were younger we moved them down to the water’s edge with a sub par duck enclosure.  A raccoon broke in and attacked them.  Downton defended Cora valiantly but lost a few feathers and bled like he lost a wing.  Sweet Cora must have been in the raccoon’s mouth or something because she had a huge puncture wound in her chest.  I wasn’t sure if they would survive, but they did!  The residual effect is that they do not like to be very far from the back yard.  They do not swim in the pond.  They get their water time like this….

Don’t ever question what kind of life the animals around here have.  I dance around all day making sure everyone is emotionally groovy.  I will not have ducks in my backyard pool area.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  I have goats in my house for goodness sake!

 

Now everyone’s houses look like this….

And finally everyone is singing my praises again.  The chickens are happy as clams. (There you go Jonathan, that saying just works!)  The ducks are slightly confused but love their new house.  It is right under the night-light so it always has bugs in it.  And now the mystery of the eggs is solved…..

dun dun da….

It is a duck egg!!!  Cora is laying an egg everyday for us!  I’m trying to come up with a marketing slogan for this.  “Sojourn Farm Eggs: Every dozen includes a duck for luck!”  I don’t know, but I crack myself up coming up with stuff like this.  I’m so thrilled because this means, not only that she did not get permanently injured in her attack, but also that we might get little ducklings in the spring!  If I see her or him start sitting on a pile of eggs I will stop taking them away from her.

But for now….

They are delicious!  (I had to try them first before anyone else around here because they were unsure.)

At the time of writing this we have had two random chicken eggs.  I think their little layers are just getting revved up.  The new problem is that they lay them wherever they want.  With the move they are all jacked up and confused.  Supposedly if you put ceramic eggs in the nesting boxes they will “get the point.”  I crack up thinking about what goes through a chickens mind the first time they lay an egg.  “Look what just came out of my butt?!?!?”

I just love our little farm.  I love caring for the animals, even though I complain about it.  I love learning to be flexible and thinking outside the box to fix problems.  I love learning what they need to thrive.  I love what the Lord is teaching me out here.  He is everywhere in all these little creations.  More to come on that later.  For now, just know we are officially a farm, and I’m so thrilled with it!

Well, IT’S TWINS!!

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Introducing Cumulonimbus and Altostratus.  Nimba, the white one, and Alta, the dark one, for short.  They are twin two-week old Nigerian dwarf X Pygmy goats.  To say they have over taken our lives around here would be exactly accurate.  We are drunk on baby goats up in here.  They have to be bottle fed, take naps, and are living in our laundry room unless they are outside in the play pen.  Check out some of the play time….

 

There just is nothing like these little things. So why do we have these cutie pie little twins?  I’ll tell you!  Sydney got all A honor roll and I was trying to come up with a good celebration gift for her.  Also Jesse’s birthday is on June 18th and I needed a gift for him.  Now let me be honest.  I have been accused by my best friend that possibly gifting Jesse with a pygmy goat would fall under the “I wanted a pygmy goat and so I got you one for your birthday,” category.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I am just the best gift giver ever.  Jesse loves his goat.  (For all of you Jesse lovers out there, I did get him something else and I am taking him on a trip so shut up he is fine.)  These little cuties were born on Saturday, June 2nd.  I could have brought them home that week but I knew if Sydney saw them before she left for summer camp she would not go to summer camp.  She got home yesterday and we surprised her.  She was surprised to say the least and she has not left them alone since she got home except when we made her go to bed last night.

I am having flash backs to when I had my human babies.  My freezer is full of (goat)milk, there are bottle warmers on the counter and bottles in the dish drainer.  They eat on a schedule just like human babies and when they get hungry they go hunting for nipples.  They also make the cutest sounds.  It is too hot for them to be outside all the time so they take breaks in the dog crate I have in the laundry room.  However, they will be wondering around the house in no time at all because we got doggie diapers for them last night.  We have become “those” goat people.  (*update: in the midst of writing this blog the doggie diapers got put on the goats.  Because of certian anatomical differances that I will not take the time to explain, the diapers do not work for goats.  Sydney is lamenting this fact and is currently searching for information on goat diapers.  The babies are in the laundry room until then.)

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But also in all this cuteness I am reminded of our Good, Good Father.  In His word he compares us with sheep.  Now I’ll be honest, I don’t see much difference between sheep and goats.  There is a diffrence because at Tractor Supply there is milk replacer for lambs and a totally different bag of mild replacer for kids.  I don’t think the difference is big enough not to make the leap that sheep and goats act the same way.  So just for illustration sake lets say they are the same.  God compares us to sheep and says that he will leave the 99 in the heard to find the one that is lost.  He runs us down to bring us back to the safety of His herd.  He also calls Himself the Gentle Shepard that tends to the flock.  He says He is the Watchmen that stays at the gate protecting the herd. All these things come to life for me as I care for these little girls.  They are weak and helpless just like me.  Without me caring for them and feeding them they would die.  It’s the same predicament I am in without Jesus.

John 10: 7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

8“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

9“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

 11“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

12“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

13“He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

14“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

15even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

16“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

17“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

18“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. Print.

Really I sit in a position right now where I am just so grateful to God that we have property where we can keep goats.  Mostly because it causes this above portion of scripture to come alive for me.  Part of me loves to call myself a shepherd because it helps me identify with a small part of who Jesus is.  But as I watch and interact with these little cuties I see how uphill Jesus’ battle is to keep me focused on Him.  They are such “know it all’s” and “I want to jump up on that dangerous thing,” kind of animals.  And guess what? I do the same stupid kind of goat things.  Jesus is powerful enough to save me from myself.  I am only powerful enough to manage the carnage, and hope they don’t jump out of their play pen.  Thank you Jesus for always keeping me in the fold and leading me to greener pastures.  I love you Lord.

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Prepare to be inundated with pictures of these cuties.  This is what summer 2018 will revolve around!  I am sure there will be many “lessons from the baby goats!”

 

 

 

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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