Saturday, August 23, 2008

Provision of Piglets and Pasture

As often as it seems that our days are filled with trials on the farm, I (Joy) feel I just can't let the opportunity slip by when beautiful, wonderful things happen. Such is the case today.

Elliott and Oliver each have particular areas of the farm that are their responsibility to manage as well as opportunity to profit. Elliott oversees the Nubian goat herd, an exceptional breed known for their high quality milk. Oliver manages the Yorkshire pigs, great for breeding and raising for pork.

When Oliver received his pigs for his birthday last November, it was his intention to breed the sow with one of the boars. Unfortunately, the boar never grew very well to be used for that purpose so Oliver decided to prepare him for the market instead. However, because of his research and wisdom, he decided to monitor the sow and make sure the time had passed for the boar's last chance before Oliver castrated him to prepare him for the market.

That was more than 3 months ago. During these last few months, we've searched for a replacement boar which has been very difficult to find. Finding pigs is like searching for a needle in a haystack!

Imagine our complete surprise when Timmy called back to the house a couple of days ago announcing that Big Sow was a mother! We all dropped what we were doing and drove, ran, and bicycled to the pasture. God had blessed Oliver with a litter of piglets.

As we try to farm successfully, we are so aware of our complete dependence on God - in the fertility of the animals, in our ever-dwindling energy stores, and in our limited pasture land. The farm continues to grow although our land has not. We have had to simply trust that "where God guides, He provides".

We were so blessed several months ago when a neighbor offered to let us use her vacant pasture for our growing farm. In exchange for occasional help with some of her tasks, she has welcomed us onto her land - even encouraging us to enjoy the fruit from her peach and apple trees!

As more calves have been born, and with severely limited rainfall, we found ourselves at our Father's feet again with requests for pasture land. How amazed and blessed we were when another neighbor recently came over to give us scraps for the pigs and offered us his vacant pasture as well. Tim and the boys worked to repair and install fences and suddenly our pasture land multiplied! How did that neighbor know our need? What prompted him to offer his land? We know it was God and God alone. Somehow God put it in this man's heart to not only offer his land, but also a desire to see our animals grazing peacefully in his view. My heart was so deeply moved when Elliott told me that after our cows were moved over to the new land, our older neighbor man took a lawn chair and positioned it just outside the fence so he could sit and watch the cows graze. How could the very thing that I'm assuming would be a bother to others actually bring them joy? God and God alone.

So for these few minutes, we simply pause between the milking and mucking to be incredibly thankful for God's provision. Piglets and pasture...our God is very good to us!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our Little Farm Girl

Sheridan turned 1 1/2 yesterday. She is such a sweet girl and we love her so very much! ~Meredith

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sullivan & Harrison's Salvation Story

My (Joy) comments at this modern-day journaling medium known as the "blog" are written almost entirely for the purpose of recording the work of God in our family so that our children and grandchildren will know the history of God's faithfulness in our lives.

Last week we experienced every Christian parent's greatest joy as our younger boys asked Jesus to forgive them from their sins and lead them throughout the rest of their lives. Because they recognized that they are sinners and are in need of a Savior; and because they believe that Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life, die on the cross, and forgive them from their sins, they have eternal life. Once our lives have ended here on earth, we have the joy of knowing we'll spend eternity with our precious boys.

For several months Harrison (7) had been talking with me about asking Jesus into his heart. I took the advice of a former youth pastor who suggested we allow our children time to truly understand and desire a relationship with Christ rather than leading them in a sinner's prayer of confession the very first time they showed even the remotest interest. It has always been of great importance to us that our children's salvation experiences be forever imprinted on their memories and that they remember well their desire to become a God-follower. We did not want them to look back during turbulent years ahead and wonder if they truly had been saved or if they only were responding to their parents' desire for them to ask for Jesus' forgiveness. We wanted their decisions to be their own and not to be coerced in any way.

Whereas Harrison had been expressing a desire to be saved, Sullivan seemed oblivious to his need for a personal relationship with Christ. Much like his older brother, Oliver, Sullivan is a concrete thinker and approaches situations from an academic standpoint rather than emotional.

Since Meredith and Elliott were ages 6 and 7 when they accepted Christ, it was very burdensome to me and Timmy when Oliver turned 9 and still seemed to have no need of salvation. Once when I asked Oliver if he knew why Jesus died on the cross (expecting him to mention our sinful state and need of a Savior), he responded by saying, "Jesus was crucified because he made the government officials and priests angry by saying that He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days." I remember being amazed that he could find such an analytical explanation for Jesus' death. Sullivan sees things from a similar perspective and although aware of his sinfulness, he had not expressed a need for salvation.

During Sullivan's recent sickness and hospitalization, I noticed that he would wake up from bad dreams completely terrified. During one night-terror at the hospital that caused the nurse to come to Sullivan's room, I asked if he was on any medication that was causing him to be so fearful. I explained that he was ordinarily a very stable, happy boy and that I was unaccustomed to his recent terror-filled episodes where he would run toward the door of his hospital room as if he were trying to escape, only to run back to me and cling to me as if someone were trying to take him away. I had never seen him so filled with terror. I assumed it was all related to the illness, but was concerned when it happened more than a week after he came home and was completely recovered.

On the morning of August 5th, Harrison woke up just as I was finishing my morning devotions, plopped down on the couch beside me, and began telling me about a scary dream he had. I remarked that Sullivan had a terrible dream in the night also and asked him if they had been reading something scary that could be causing the bad dreams. As we talked, Sullivan came downstairs and joined us. The Holy Spirit prompted me to tell them of Oliver's salvation which was prompted by a bad dream he had one night. I read them Job 33:15 "He (God) speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with his warning." I also shared Proverbs 3:24 that says, "You can lie down without fear and enjoy pleasant dreams." I told them how Jesus can protect them and keep them safe so they wouldn't ever have to fear disaster again. As we continued to talk, they both said that they wanted to ask for Jesus' forgiveness. As only God could do, the details worked out for us to call Timmy who was in North Carolina helping Meredith begin a day of lot cutting with the tractor. He immediately stopped everything and went to the van where it was quiet. I put my cell phone on the speaker setting and only quietly observed as Timmy led his two little boys individually in a prayer of confession and acceptance of Christ. What complete joy filled those moments - much like the minutes following the births of our babies. For that brief time, everything is right in the world. There are no worries, no concerns - everything is perfect.

During the next few hours, we called extended family members to let the boys share the good news of their conversions. The boys were quick to remind me to write their spiritual birth dates on the calendar so we could rejoice with them each year like we do with the older children. Sullivan said that his salvation qualifies him to now consider becoming a missionary. Harrison cleverly suggested, though his request was denied, that a "no chore" day be observed as is common practice for their real birthdays each year.

So now we begin the most joyous chapter in parenting of leading and encouraging our young boys in their growth and relationship with Jesus. Our joy is complete! God is so good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New Additions to the Kingdom of God

We have been rejoicing with wonderful news this week! On Tuesday morning, both Sullivan and Harrison made decisions to accept Christ as their Savior! We couldn't be any more happy to watch them make the most important decision of each of their lives and both begin their own personal relationships with Christ.
If you are unfamiliar with how you can also accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please read the following post written by Mama several months ago:

In a time when many families are falling apart and homes are filled with hostility, bitterness, and despondency, one might wonder why we're so happy. Why are the dad and mom best friends? Why do the children work well together and enjoy being with their family? Why do we have hope even when situations are sometimes hopeless?

All credit can be given to God and God alone. We believe God's Word, the Bible, to be the absolute, infallible truth and agree when it says that all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard. Recognizing that the penalty for our sins is eternal separation from God, along with a miserable life here on earth, we accepted God's plan for our salvation. God became flesh and came to earth as a baby, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, was crucified on the cross, and took on Himself our punishment. He rose from the dead and now we can have abundant life here on earth and the promise of a wonderful life in Heaven by putting our faith in His sacrifice to pay for our sins in full.

When Tim was just a four year old boy, he heard this truth and asked Jesus to save him. At twelve years of age, Joy accepted Jesus as her Savior. Our joy is full and overflowing as we celebrate three of our older children's "spiritual birthdays" each year, remembering the day that each of them recognized their need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. We pray that our younger children will one day also ask Jesus into their hearts and lives.

There is no way to adequately express the contentment and joy we experience as followers of Christ. God has given purpose and meaning to our days. He is our dearest family friend and rejoices with us in happy times, while compassionately comforting us when sorrows accompany our steps.

We would love for you to know Christ as your personal Savior as well! Please contact us or visit and click on "How to get to Heaven" for more information.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." Romans 10:9-10

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cantaloupes Are In!

There are a ton of cantaloupes this year. We get to enjoy them at almost every meal!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Green Acres Is The Place To Be

While immersed in the environment that a hospital offers, I (Joy) gained a new appreciation for our very isolated life tucked away in the woods on the farm. Although we, like others who enter the hospital doors, have in common the effects of physical illness or the desire to help those who do, the similarities of our lives stop there.

As I waited in the pediatric unit of the emergency room, I was so relieved that Sullivan wasn't coherent enough to know that we were surrounded by those affected by the evil of the world. In a nearby room, a police officer extracted details of an allegation of inappropriate physical contact and assault of a 10 year old girl. The family members which flowed from the room were an assorted display of dysfunction. I prayed for, and wondered, what would become of this little girl. Would she follow the familiar path of dysfunction so visible in the comments of those who represented her closest family members? Or would she somehow find the love of Jesus Christ and become a trophy of God's grace? Who will reach out to this obviously sin-sick family?

The faces of the parents in another room displayed the heaviness of great worry and sorrow. I watched as they gathered around what appeared to be a young, teen-aged girl who was brought into the emergency room because of an overdose. Whether legitimate or not, the parents seemed weighted down with self-imposed guilt mixed with fear. I wondered what could make a young girl feel so hopeless. Surely, the enemy had told her many lies that somehow found a resting place in her thoughts and eventually in her actions. I wondered which Christian family God will, or already has, placed in their path that might shine the light of hope into their dark lives.

As the action of the emergency room slowed and the hour became late that first night of our stay, I listened to the intimate conversations taking place between the middle-aged doctors and the young nurses. Talk of finances, troubled marriages, and future dreams and goals were interrupted as these mere strangers would join together to save yet another life. I watched as one fully aware of the potential danger of these working relationships. This should be the sort of stuff shared by families - moms and dads joining together to offer life-support for the spiritual lives of their children, parents and children dreaming future goals together. What a deadly concoction this setting offers for the mom choosing to work away from home. Will the adoration of a well-educated, financially secure doctor lure her away from the life of stability and contentment that a loving and faithful husband provides? Should her heart turn away from her humble home and family, will the modern Christian remind her of the truth of scripture - that God prioritizes our holiness over our happiness - or will the church simply encourage her to choose the path of personal happiness?

Having never spent any time on a pediatric floor, I suppose it never occurred to me that some babies and toddlers who are hospitalized must spend their days alone while their parents are working. How sad when I overheard the nurses discuss the tiny baby in the next room who cried inconsolably. She didn't have a daddy and her mother had things to do and would return in the evening. I suppose if I had ever given it any thought, I would have known that the nurses aren't able to transfer babies to a bouncy seat when awake or put them in an infant swing in the nurse's station while they do their paperwork. Certainly the nurses aren't able to sit and simply rock little ones all day. I was suddenly aware of the magnificent privilege to not only have a family that made it possible for me to be right next to Sullivan for his entire hospital stay, but we are also blessed by a network of extended family and dear friends who offer help of all sorts. I asked the nurse if volunteers were allowed to hold the babies. She said that although they were permitted, most volunteers don't want to hold small children. Who will hold the little baby in the next room? What must it be like to be sick and all alone in a strange place in a society where no one has time to hold the weakest and most vulnerable?

Please forgive me if my comments regarding my final hospital observation might seem offensive, but as a mother of daughters, I have developed strong feelings about this topic. Near the end of our hospital stay, a nurse came in our room one afternoon and asked if we might enjoy a famous visitor. While I responded with a smile and appreciation for an impromptu visit by a young girl who recently won a state title for her beauty and poise, I actually was quite puzzled by her father's efforts in promoting his daughter's desire to become Miss America. This little, 7 year old was spending her summer doing good deeds by visiting the sick for the purpose of moving forward in her pursuit of beauty recognition and the furtherance of title advancement. I thought of the irony as she gracefully stepped into our room with her crown perfectly positioned, fancy dress, and sash that proclaimed her title of beauty. In all of her poise, she could hardly contain the shock of seeing a little boy with stitches hanging from his nose, a drain plug dripping blood from one nostril and snot running from the other. As her father explained the supposed life-long dream of this youngster to become known world-wide for her beauty, I could scarcely conjure a look of understanding. When Meredith was young, Timmy and I began the route of most modern-day parents and enrolled her in dance classes - for the poise, you know. But it didn't take long for us to realize the truth of a parenting statement that would serve to guide us in the years to come: "Begin as you intend to go". Although incredibly cute in her tights with her chubby thighs which gained the name "gubbles" that has continued with each chunky-legged sibling since, we soon realized that we didn't really want to encourage Meredith to prance around and focus on her beauty or poise as a female. We weren't desirous of promoting a sport that would focus on her body and ability to move it in a way that would be considered by others to be pleasing to the eye. Sure, it was cute when she was 3, but what about when she turned 16? "Begin as you intend to go" would surely condemn us as we explained that we didn't want her flouncing around in front of a public audience as a young woman. Although presumably seen as radical, we want to encourage, in every possible way, the cultivating of beauty within our daughters and squash the world's attempt to conform them to the pursuit of outward beauty. Because of that, I was dumbfounded by the visit from the little beauty queen and it was notable in my memoirs of Sullivan's hospital stay.

Having been immersed in this other world for a week, I am all the more desirous to return to my busy, but functional and joyful, family-filled farm life where there is much laughter. In that familiar place, there are happy, much-loved children, a mom and dad who enjoy one another's company, and a great, big God watching over and caring for us all. I pray I will not soon forget the cries of the lost and lonely. I pray my family will shine the light of Christ into their lives.