Forgiveness in Goats and Chickens?

20140223_144904This morning I asked Jesus “Lord, what are these animals teaching me about you that I can share with others?” He said “forgiveness”. I of course said…. “HUH?”

It is my deepest desire to share with you things the Lord is showing me. This means He must SHOW me something. This falls in the category of showing me right here and now, not something He’s showed me in the past so here we go!

Forgiveness? What do chickens, goats, geese, turkeys etc have to do with that? When you have animals you will end up with one or more of them ticking you off. They get out of the yard, they step on your feet, they eat things that they’re not supposed to, they fight you while your trying to help them…. ohhh…..! I’m an animal sometimes to Jesus! I get off trail, I step on His plan for me and make a mess of it, I take part in things I shouldn’t and dangit… I fight Him when he is trying to help me. Yet, He forgave me when I still hated Him. Romans 5:8-11 says “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

I dare you to re-read those verses. Look for the words sinners, enemies, reconciled and atonement. It brought tears to my eyes to consider myself an enemy of God. We all start that way. So how does this correlate to animals? Can they ask for forgiveness? No. They cant speak…. and if they can to you…. umm that’s a new discussion! Yet we have to forgive them. Would I say your animals hate you or are your enemies, no. However if you start to forgive something as simple as an animal without being asked for forgiveness or without an apology then could we apply the “practice makes permanent” theory? Yes.

Are we going to have a stranger, neighbor, friend, family member or spouse that is going to treat us like an enemy? Maybe do something that we must forgive without them ever repenting? Absolutely. If we are practicing forgiving with animals will we be better at forgiving people in our lives? Absolutely! Will it be easy? No, but I dare say as we do more forgiving the more easily it will come.

Here’s the toughest of questions in forgiveness… “Does it make what they did right?” No. So work is required here. Training work like teaching them to follow instead of dragging them. Work like mending fences, wearing boots, feeding them the appropriate amounts so they don’t get thru the fence for your neighbors grass… you get the point. The same applies to people.

Teaching people comes in many forms. Sometimes teaching people comes from teaching them wrong from right and the best way to do that is humbling ourselves to apologize for our wrongs or being open to discuss area’s we’ve learned things. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes. When we ask for forgiveness we get better at giving it, know that it is desperately needed by all. The last part of that scripture says “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” this atonement with Him gives us joy and therefore atonement with others will give us joy.

Sometimes the “people” needing to be taught is you, hence the boots and feeding corrections. You see, we were enemies with Jesus before we received Him has our savior. Now we are not enemies but co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ) This is where I’m going, if now we are no longer enemies, than are we still in need of forgiveness? Yes. We make mistakes and 1John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Can we act unrighteous after we’ve been saved? Yes. We’ve worked on animals, and worked on people, this is how Jesus works on us. Regardless of the other persons reaction our confession cleanses us because Jesus does the cleansing, not the people.

Ok, goats can’t confess so where did I get this from animals? I’ll tell you. My chickens have been getting into my neighbors yard. I’ve done tons of things to try to fix this however my neighbor is still upset about it. I reacted on our last occasion with harshness and unkindness because, well the because doesn’t matter does it. I acted that way and knew that I must apologize knowing full well that this neighbor has no desire nor is he equipped to forgive me. I had to anyway. Even if I was never to be forgiven by my neighbor, Jesus could clean my unrighteousness regardless of the reaction.

I’m grateful for the chastisement of my Lord for he says in Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Ask Jesus today what you can work on, who might learn from it and where you can practice.

Amen

 

 

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Its a Dirty Job…

Don’t let a little dirt get in your way of planting something. What do I mean? Well, this is the statement made to me…

“I don’t even know how to prepare the ground…”

Honestly, in just about every place I know you can grow something with very little effort. Most back yards will let you turn the dirt over in circle about 18″ in diameter chop up the clumps, and plant a seed right in the middle of it. I used to think to grow a garden you needed rows and rows of tilled earth and if you didn’t rent one of those motorized machines to do it, you were doomed to failure…. it just isn’t so.  Now, that’s not to say that you should never do anything to your dirt. Just don’t stress out so much about it that you never do anything.

 Little effort plants I posted in “Lets Get Started”. What I didn’t address was the dirt, planting, water and mulch.

The dirt: get your shovel and get it into the dirt as far as you can. Pry it up and turn the whole clump over. Use your shovel then to chop up the clump right there in the hole. Do this in a circle till its about 18″ in diameter. Believe it or not that is enough room for most easy veggies to grow. If you want to be sure, get yourself a bag of organic potting soil (I prefer Square Foot Gardening) and mix a bit of it into the soil you chopped up.

The Planting: When planting the seeds I suggested follow the basic directions on the package right in the middle of your circle. Make sure you pat it down gently so your seeds don’t float but don’t get overboard or it’ll struggle coming up.

The Water: Since you created yourself a hole, there is no need to water your entire yard just to water your plant. Fill the hole with water daily till your plant peeks its head out. If you want to be able to turn on your water and walk away by all means bust out the sprinkler! Another fun way to water is to take a super cheap hose (or just a old one wearing out) and lay it out in whatever pattern your circles are in and cut tiny holes in the hose at each circle. Crimp the end of your hose with a heavy rubber band (I use hair ties) then turn your water on low and enjoy your very easy and adjustable “drip system”.

The Mulch: Once your beautiful little baby pops its head out mulch the circle with something biodegradable and good for next years garden. Example: my property has a lot of clay in the soil so I mulch with wood chips so that I can turn those under and in doing so increase the organic matter in my soil for water retention next year! Here are some great mulches; wood chips, straw, pine shavings, pine needles, nut shells, leaves and even cardboard that isn’t waxed. Get creative but remember where you live. If its hot mulch lightly colored, if its cold mulch dark colored, if its windy mulch heavy such as nut shells. Mulch is for water retention and weed suppression so have fun!

2013-10-19 15.51.05No one said a garden has to have rows! Not to say there isn’t a purpose for rows just don’t get stuck on it. I planted pumpkins at the base of my greenhouse short wall and it caught all the rain water and dropped it right on my pumpkins. The beauty was the leaves! I grow an heirloom called Big Max and the leaves can stand as tall as my waste! Oh how they were gorgeous wrapping all the way around the greenhouse and providing shade for the inside and a green background and wonderful yellow/orange flowers to look at from my back porch.  I’ve told several people now to try growing pumpkins about a foot from the base of their gutter down spouts. Train them to follow the house and before you know it, you’ll have greenery that after the first frost will surprise you with great big gifts that had been hiding underneath.  Little work… great pie!

Lets talk about raised beds briefly. I love my raised beds. I recommend it for any gardener for a multiplicity of reasons. However, its June. Don’t worry about it this year. We’ll build some beds in late fall after canning when there isn’t much growing but we want to be outside cultivating for next year. I am all about recycling and there are so many fun ways to build beds for very little cost so I may go over some ideas before then so you can start grabbing materials sooner.  For now, plant a squash anywhere.

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.

Just try, if you mess it all up, try again next year.

Amen.

Self Sufficient or Producing?

20141030_184550There is a huge push right now to become self sufficient. Of course this concept is subject to the culture in which we live now and has a variety of applications and names. Some call it prepping, off grid living, small farming, simple living, big brother awareness, tiny houses, homesteading, the list goes on and on. I have found that most of the information driving these concepts are based in fear.  Fear of GMOs, people, money or lack of money, world population, imposing government, and economic crashes this list is longer than the first.  I would like to introduce you to becoming a producer with faith.  Faith that this creation was given to us with a divine purpose and we have a divine job to “be fruitful and multiply”.

Faith based producing doesn’t look much different from old-time homesteading on the surface but it has a huge difference in the long run. Having a true and honest reason for why you are doing something can affect the way you do it, but also the drive to keep doing it. Most don’t know this but the life of growing things is much harder in some areas and easier in others that you wouldn’t expect. Why keep doing it if you don’t truly know why? You wouldnt. It’s easy to fall off a band wagon, its much harder to change your core beliefs to accommodate a different lifestyle. This is why the Lord showed me that our family is not becoming self sufficient, we are becoming producers.

When we first started this journey I thought we were heading in the path of self-sufficiency. The Lord is so gracious that He showed me that is not at all what He wants from His people. He says do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25). If we dig deeper he also says two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up Ecc 4:9-10. This means that we cannot run away from people and rely only on our own efforts for us to survive. This is not healthy both physically and spiritually.

If we dig deeper into the meaning of “self-sufficiency” we see that the emphasis is on our own ability to supply all our needs. This directly contradicts how we were made. We were made to need Jesus and we were made for fellowship with others. Now, that being said, in regard to cities the Lord also talks about woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! (Isa 5:8). What this means to me is that its ok to take a field and make it produce, as long as we are including Jesus in the process. This keeps us from depending on the strength of a fortified city (physical walls are not the only thing that “fortify” a city) or the false security of a country home.

It also means not just producing for you, but for others also. Why? Because He says… Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, For I was a hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in, naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? The King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Mathew 25:35-40).

You can be a producer right where you are! It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, city house, country acre or hundreds of acres. I know people who grow more on a patio than those that have an acre and those that grow more on an acre than those with hundreds. We are here to help you grow and enjoy producing from any amount of space you have and  also give you new tricks and encouragement and insights on creation you may have never seen!  A love for Jesus and a little hard work and you’ll be producing and learning from it in no time!

Amen

Volunteer Lettuce

Volunteer LettuceVolunteer Lettuce?? Yes! It is one of my favorite parts of spring. I do nothing at all and lettuce grows somewhere in the garden. Usually down wind from the last place that you planted lettuce.

How do you do this, you may ask! Well, its quite easy which is why it is so fun! Start by picking out an heirloom variety. Most varieties will produce a seed that will grow again but with heirloom you’ll know what will be growing the next year and therefore be able to spot it better. I use Amish Deer Tongue. When you plant this year, plant as much as you like plus a little more. The beauty of how easy this idea can be is exactly that… beautiful flowers will shoot up out of your lettuce plants you left behind and you can enjoy the beauty. The seeds will naturally develop at the flower head and drop or blow with the wind when they dry up. Hint: do not try to eat the leaves of the lettuce once it starts to bloom, they become very bitter and you’ll get an unfair idea of the taste of that lettuce. Lettuce is best tasting young and early in the morning or just after watering.

At the end of your year you’ll go thru the motions of pulling up all the dead plants and composting them.  You’ll turn your beds over and with out ever knowing it, you’ll plant your lettuce. Next spring you’ll start to see lettuce pop in fun places. The best part is that in most regions the lettuce will come up and be ready to pull and be eaten long before you need to plant that bed with warm weather plants.

Another note for those who are under the same misunderstanding that I was when I first started a garden…. your lettuce will rarely be growing at the same time as your tomatoes! This is fun though because it forces us out of the box of what a “salad” really is! Some wonderful salad additions that are more likely to be ready while you have lettuce ready are radishes, beets, carrots, and sugar peas. Why not throw those in a bowl and relish the freshness as early as March! Later on you can plant a fall set (beginning in late August early Sept) and enjoy your cucumbers and tomatoes with your favorite lettuce.

What does this show us about Jesus? This is how the parable of the seed is more clear to me. Not all the seeds your lettuce produce will fall on good ground. After you watch the first set of lettuce come up in the most unlikely places you’ll reflect that the people that we would never guess could come to know and love Jesus, do! What should we do then? Spread the seed of Jesus as the wind, the wind has no judgment on where it lands or what direction its going, you may be surprised where the good soil is!

Happy planting!