Life and the birds and the bees…literally…

Life this year has surely been and ebb and flow.  It’s been filled with some wonderful realizations, but has surely had it’s share of deep valley experiences.

As a family, we’ve had two deaths of dear family members. My step father, who I knew longer than my naturally born father, and my beautiful brides grams. Both lived a wonderful godly life, and they are now home.

We also have suffered the death of a dear dear friend, Luke. His going home still brings tears to my eyes.  His was a friendship that transcended life. I’ve only met one other person able to do that, whom of which I am given to in marriage, my beloved bride.

This has been quite a year also on Shiloh’s Farm.  We have taken on more critters and lost a few, 4 to be exact, over the last about 10 months, and all chickens.

We gained two goats; Lucy a Nigerian Dwarf and her daughter, Loretta, a Nigerian mix. We bought 6 baby chickens and two baby Indian Runner ducks. One chick didn’t make it, but the rest are thriving!  One chicken died from Wry Neck, one from getting stuck under a roost, one had a neurological disease and drowned in the water bucket, and one…I’m not so sure.  My best guess is she was either egg bound or broke her neck some how.  That one is a mystery.

We also rescued 5 hens.  Curly, our khaki duck, we had to re-home as he was not playing nicely with others.  He is now with his own flock on the eastern shore.  I hope he has found happiness.

We’ve also added what is called a nuc of bees. This is a hive that’s already established and ready to be installed in their new home. There are five frames of bees and you take those frames and put them in your own box, what is called a brood box.  After almost 6 weeks, they are now filling a second brood box.  We are about 1 week behind schedule, but they are doing very well and have grown in population to over twice what I received.

If that isn’t enough, we have found a church friend who is interested in raising meat chickens, called broilers, or roasters. The name is size depended.  If they are 5 pounds or smaller they are broilers, over 5 pounds they are called roasters.  We have roasters, 41 to be exact.  We’ve lost none. 

Tomorrow is harvest day for them.

So, from birds to bees, and life, it is full on here at Shiloh’s Farm.

Lessons learned:

  1. Do not take friends and friendships for granted. If you love, love well and ensure those you love know you love them. Romans 16:16 tells us to greet each other with a holy kiss.  How loving and intimate when done out of a pure heart. Pureness of heart, something we need in today’s society. So much of our society is Judas and betrays others with a kiss. So love and love well.
  2. God’s creation is fantastic and such a mystery. Animals are animals, but they are a gift from God to be enjoyed on many different levels.  Whether it is provided as just enjoyment as pets, providing eggs for food, honey for food and medical purposes, or true farm to table. We should not take our food for granted, but be thankful for it and care for the animals who provide us our food well.
  3. Animals are deeper in their understanding than we give them credit for. I’m speaking more towards my bees, but applies for sure to the other animals.  Bees will follow their care taker, this I just learned. They don’t follow aggressively, but follow the person who cares for them.

There are three kinds of love; Eros, Agape and Philos. It would do us well to learn them well, as 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us the greatest is love, out of faith, hope, and love.

So live and live well, but love and love well.

The ebb and flow of time…

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I like to think I’m maturing in the Lord. Some of you may very well beg to differ. I say this, however, as despite the ebb and flow of life, I’m learning that it’s all about timing. That life runs in seasons; some longer, some shorter, some sweeter, and some not so much.

What I want and when I want it, or how I expect things to work out, is typically not the way the Lord sees it happening. I’m learning this is OK. It’s not always easy, but it is OK.

You know where this process started? Red lights.

There was a time when I would literally hit every single red light. Every one. This grew so old so very quick. But in the still of my frustration, there was this small voice and He said this: “Do you know what I’m keeping you from?”

In the smallness of my mind I went to traffic accidents and all the calamity that can happen out in our streets, but that is not really what He meant.

“Do you know what I’m keeping you from?”

He was keeping me from the world. The hustle, the bustle, the distraction, the filling of my schedule so much so there would have been no thought of Him and no room for Him.

For He alone is worthy to be praised. Nothing in and of this world is so deserving of my time and attention. If my time and attention is in and of the world, then it is for and by Jesus and His Holy Spirit that I work, and not of my own accord.

The perception of my heart is wicked and misleading. It is at odds with my spirit, which works with His, so that it is His hands and feet and not mine.

For a time such is this.

I love You and Your faithfulness.  Thank you Jesus.

death…

So in the period of less than 7 days my family has lost two precious people.  Why do we use the word lost.  We know where they are, living out what the Scriptures promise us for those who believe in Jesus.

My bride’s Gram was 90 years old. What a woman. She admits to having a good life and was happy right to the end of her days.  She is a woman who knew how to love people. She was infectious this way. Always had a smile, always welcomed, and always gave. Her work ethic is like one I’ve not seen before.

She and her husband, who everyone calls Papa, raised a wonderful family who live their lives the same way.  Though this ethic is seen in all her children, I see it in the women I am most familiar with, Carol, Gram’s daughter, and Carol’s daughter, Christy Joy, my bride. This ethic is so infectious, I believe it most definitely part of their DNA.

The legacy continues.

My step dad, Howard, was 95. What a man. This is a man who lived his life to serve God and people. He was a Levite, in that his title was Minister of Music. He was in charge of all the choirs. Not just voice, but bells also. He would take groups of people and travel the world, spreading the joy of music and God, as well as bringing a cultural experience to those who were a part. That is just the part of him I knew and benefited from. My understanding is that he was the same way before I met him.

My dad died when I was 14. This drove my mom and I to church, where we both met Howard.

Just how great is our God, that He would help me to build a relationship with this wonderful man for a couple years, before he and my mom would marry.

The widower meets the widow, and life grows anew.

Only God.

I remember the morning my mom asked me what I thought if she were to marry Howard. I was so happy for her and Howard. It was perfect.

I look at death much differently now, as I learn what it means to walk by faith and not by sight. It helps all the more to know my Grams and Howard, my second earthly father, knew Jesus, because I know there is no more pain, no more sorrow, and they are healed completely and made new in the presence of Jesus.

Yes I feel the loss, I feel the pain, but joy comes in the morning as we celebrate life on this side of heaven and raise a beautiful daughter, Carol Sue. It will be the influence of these two beautiful people that will help us do this.

Their life has not ended, but has started a new season. There memory and influence will continue on.

I praise and thank God for their life and love.

 

Devotions, dishes, and diapers…

It’s how we roll on the farm and they all do with cleaning. 

There is no better way to start the day than by prayer and devotions and they all go to Jesus. Starting the day by being cleansed by Him and His Holy Spirit helps to start the day right. 

Dishes and diapers came even before barn chores this morning. A small kitchen with limited space and only a certain number of cloth diapers helps to prioritize the chore list. 

Kind of like Matthew 23:26 where Jesus talks about cleaning the inside of the cup. 

Start inward and work outward. 

Adoption…

Have you ever looked up a definition of a word and they use a version of the word to define itself?

So it is with the word adoption. Truth be told it bothers me when they do that.

The fun starts, however, when we look at the origin of the word, which for adoption, is Latin.

Ad-optio = Ad means to and optio means choose, so adoption means to choose.

Just under half of our animals on the farm are rescues, adopted. Some come from our family farm in Michigan, and one pure breed was purchased because we wanted a guarantee what we were getting. The one we have purchased has proven to be the most challenging.

Those we’ve been given or have adopted have been great. All of our animals are part of the Shiloh family.

In the New International Version of the Bible, adoption is found five times. Each time it uses the word adoption in this phrase: “adoption to sonship.”

The animals we have adopted and rescued are constant reminders of who we are in Christ and through Christ; we are adopted sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe, God.

In the hustle and bustle of this busy world we need all the reminders we can get, as everything pulls and tugs at us and distracts us from who we really are, and remembering always that we are but aliens in a hostile world.

The pure breed animal we purchased that has been a pain? So have we been purchased by Christ, in fact Scripture tells us we are not our own:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

How tightly we like to hang on to things, including ourselves, when in fact we belong as co-heirs to our Father in heaven.

Matthew chapter 6 tells us to store up treasures in heaven and not on earth. It would probably do us good to understand what treasures in heaven mean.

Creation…

As I get older and have more life experiences, I come to realize this fact more and more:

Colossians 1:15-23 (NIV)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

I think of verse 16 more specifically. There is nothing that isn’t His. We have just been given the honor to help steward it.

I have been privileged to have been part of bringing two children into this world. My wonderful son who is 30 and 1/2 years old. He is so much more smarter than I in so many different aspects of life. He has a wonderful heart for people. He is handsome, smart, works and plays hard, and I am very proud of him.

I am now the father of a beautiful daughter of almost 3 months. I call my two children my book ends, as they have joined me in life at what I consider almost the two ends of my life.

My son, blessed me when I was much younger and inexperienced in life. Despite my lacking as a man and a father, he has turned into a wonderful man.

My daughter, blessed me when I am 31 years older than when I was blessed with my son. I am a man of faith now, seeking God’s heart, however imperfectly. Though I need glasses for my physical eyes, my spiritual eyes grow sharper as time goes on. I thank the Lord for this, as I do not want to be an Eli especially in the days we are in.

What do I see…

I see God everywhere in the midst of creation. Even in the midst of the brokenness and sin. The entirety of creation belongs to Him.  All of it, including my two children. What about all the pain we see in the world? It is a result of sin and Jesus is the answer.

I believe life begins at conception. My daughter was born out of love and science through IVF. To witness the beginning of her life from conception till the present, shows the miracle of God’s work and just how beautiful He and His work is.

What is in a name? In Genesis 49:10, Shiloh is used as a name for Jesus.

So, when you here the name, Shiloh’s Farm, please do not think of it as our farm, but as a part of Jesus’ creation, that belongs to Him and that we are helping to care for.

Myself, my bride, my family, this land, these animals, the vegetables, the solar power, the water collected, the compost made, the vehicles and equipment and tools, all belong to Jesus. We pray His Holy Spirit dwells here and blesses us and this land, and uses it and us to bless those around us.

Isaiah 55: 5-6

 

Given vs. taken…

One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is the difference between what I’ve been given and what I’ve taken.

I don’t mean in the material aspect of life, but in the matter of what God has put in my life, who has He place in my life, where has He placed me in my life, and what does He have me doing with my life.

Using my life as the example, He has used the Marine Corp as a springboard of training and life experience to place me in law enforcement. There were only two groups of educated people in my training academy; those with a college education and those with a military background. There was no one with just a GED or high school diploma.

Now, I chose to join the Marine Corp, which I know didn’t surprise God, but He used it to place me into the military police field and then into the police department. Since then, He has place people groups around me to help direct me, train me, and help me live life to the glory of Him.

Now, I don’t believe for a moment there is anything I can do as an individual on my own to bring God glory, but through my relationship with Jesus and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, all things are now possible. It’s been amazing to see God work in my life.

From trainers and educators in the police department, to pastors and other mentors in my life, He has use a multitude to build me up.

I have tried to do many different things with my life like different ministries, jobs in the department, relationships, jobs outside the department.  All met with some degree of success and some degree of problems, however those areas that I know God gave me have been met with far more blessing than problems.

It has taken years living life and it hasn’t been until this last year, 2016, for me to finally learn this lesson.  When I tried going back to college to get my bachelors, though a good thing, it wasn’t really a God thing, it was a me thing, and it was EXTREMELY difficult. I failed, actually, and had to drop out. I didn’t have the time or the ability to focus to get the work  one.  It was tremendously stressful on me and my family.  When I went to get my associates, it was really pretty smooth.  It wasn’t without it’s struggles, but it was very much different than my bachelors.  The conflict was different and so was the outcome.

In my work, I know God has placed me because of the success of my work. I do not say this proudfully, but in realization of the lesson I’ve now learned. I know and can see the positive impact my work is leaving on people.  I’ve been able to share my faith in some aspects of my work, which is huge when we look at church and state. He has placed me in my work where I can build positive relationships for the police department, and its working. Which is very important, especially with all the stress there is between law enforcement and the communities we serve today.

I’ve tried different ministries. Some I’ve been able to finish in their season, however there have been others that I have had to quit. I am a believer that God works in seasons in our life, so to finish a season in a ministry is a great thing, but to quit before the season is over tells me I wasn’t to be in that ministry in the first place. Huge finding when it comes to impacting the lives of people around us and they look to you (me) as a leader.

So many times I feel the need to commit myself because doing the ministry is a good thing and it’s helping people and there is usually a need, but if it’s not where you are supposed to be and not what you are supposed to be doing, then you are being distracted from what it is you are suppose to be doing and where you are supposed to be.

It causes us to neglect those areas of our life which should be considered ministries, but so many times are often neglected for the sake of serving God.

Our own relationship with Christ, for instance, is our first and most important ministry. It is a ministry, understand that, and it is the most important ministry you will ever be part of.

If you are married or courting your future wife or husband, that is your second most important ministry. Next to Jesus, nothing should interfere with your relationship, or impact it in a negative manner. If what you are doing is having a negative impact on your marriage, you need to do a serious reassessment.

Now, it’s important you and your spouse are on the same page and expectations are discussed. Surprises and agendas in a relationship can be dangerous, when it comes to our work, ministries and relationship.

One of Satan’s goals is to destroy marriages, so talk with your spouse and make sure everyone is in agreement.  Compromise can be healthy and a good thing, but discussion is where decisions should be made.

Never be afraid or proudful about asking for help from someone more wise than yourself. Guys can have a problem with this. (Types as he looks in the mirror)

Life can be stressful and busy to the point it’s not healthy, but it’s not always supposed to be this way.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 was the second Scripture God laid on my heart and is a good place to start for our life.