Friday, April 18, 2014

Unashamedly bragging



I've been thinking a lot about today. Today, 2000 years ago. The entire center and source of all things, all the purposes of time and history and existence culminating in one Man's abused and slaughtered body hanging on a Roman cross. There is no god like mine!

All the religions of the world acknowledge that there's something wrong with us humans.  And they all give their prescription for making us better, which like Propaganda said is like spraying perfume on a corpse and pretending it doesn't still stink.  But for all the religions and the good ideas man has come up with for how we can be pleasing to God or just be better people, none of them propose what my God has done in Christ.

So maybe you scrap religion altogether.  It's a crutch that weak man needs, but you're too intelligent for that.  God, if he (or she) exists is just a nice concept to help us be better people.  Ignoring problems never solves them.  If we're all just godless products of chance and time why do we even care?  But I digress, that's another blog post.

There's no answer like the answer found in Christ.

The perfect One, swallowing up the sure judgement coming against me because I'm not right.  I'm made to image God, but I don't, and He has a right to scrap His creation turned against Him.  But He doesn't.  Instead, He stands in my place.  Stands between me and the place of my sure judgement.

Only my God redeems.  Only my God does not count my wrongs against me and promises me a new heart.  Only my God is working to conform me to the image of His Son.  Only my God came, not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.  Only my God became a man and knows what its like to bear the weight of my fallenness.  Only my God bends down to lift me up.  Only my God gives not just a way for me to live right, but the power to live that way by His very life living in me.

There is no god like mine!


What love is this.  
To send His own.  
To die for sin.  
And take us home.  
Got me feelin' good.  
Forget my feelin's.  
When you heard a story bout the hero dying for the villain?

- Trip Lee 

So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!" For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. - 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

 Quieted,
Sheila

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do you know Jochabed?


Moses in his mothers arms' by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)

What do you do as a mom when you know your child grows up under the influence of authorities in their life who dishonor God and His Word? Who mock the Christ and the whole concept of sin and the need for a Savior? Who think of the Bible as old, out-of-date stories? Who offer the short-lived pleasures of this world as the ultimate pursuit of your child's life over and against the foolish call of Christ to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him to a kingdom that they cannot see where true riches and never-ending pleasures abide in uninhibited relationship with the Living God?

I look to a woman named Jochabed.

The nearly 4000 year old story of Moses is not only a pivotal story in the history of the people of Israel. It's also the heroic story of a mom who put her hope for her son in the Living God and whose influence, no doubt, was God's means of grace to plant faith in Moses.

We only get a few short verses about Jochabed's influence on Moses. But we get a thousand upon thousand year old legacy of faith in Christ because of her faith.
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. - Hebrews 11:24-26
Mary Elizabeth Baxter (a Christian woman long gone to glory) wrote a commentary on Jochabed that I find tremendously encouraging. Here is an excerpt:
Christian mother, does your home influence counteract the sin, the untruth, the impurity, the hollowness of the world, so that your son finds the home life a haven of rest from temptation and shame? 
Is there so much of God in your life that it more than outweighs other influences which surround him? Blessed mother, if it is so! 
Pharaoh's daughter said to Jochebed: "Take this child away and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages." (Exd 2:9.) This is the last we hear of Jochebed, Moses' mother. THE RESULT OF HER LIFE's WORK was the man Moses. 
The true mother lives again in her son. There is the answer to her prayers; there is the result of her watchfulness; there is the true correction of her own faults reproduced in her son. Moses might never have been the man he was had it not been for Jochebed. 
Who knows how many a leader of God's people may be at the present time in course of training by some pious mother? Who knows but that the little James or John or William, who is playing with the kitten on the hearth, may some day become a man to whom hundreds or thousands may look for help and direction? 
Oh let every mother who reads these pages understand her vocation when a higher than Pharaoh's daughter says to her: "Take this child and nurse it for Me, and I will give thee thy wages." But the wages of Jochebed were not to be given by the princes of this world. To be the mother of a Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, like whom there arose not since in Israel (Deu 34:10): this was an honour which none but God could give.
I often get discouraged. Almost to the point of giving up... whatever that would look like. I guess every paralyzation of indifference or hopelessness that I choose is a giving up of sorts. I let the lie that my influence means nothing, even more, that God's word and grace is not powerful enough and God's Sovereign goodness is not really sovereign or good, numb me into just sitting there rather than saying something.

There was a time when they nursed at my spiritual breast. There was a time when I had a captive and eager audience of two boys under 5 who fed on the truth with gladness. But that season of nursing is passed. Now they are in Pharoah's house. Now they have the opulence of the world at their fingertips and the temporary pleasures of sin to worship the false gods of this age with. 

But I remember Jochabed.  I remember the God of Jochabed. My God- the God who purposed Moses' life even when it was full of the fleeting pleasures of sin and the treasures of Egypt.

I often wonder how Jochabed endured those years in Egypt, knowing her son was gaining rank in the house of the ruler who enslaved her and her people. Surely it was painfully difficult to go about the laborious tasks of slavery knowing that her son was enjoying riches, entertainment and power in a house which attributed all it's power and riches to false gods.  I wonder if she thought there was no way her son Moses would remember all that she taught him at her breast.  I wonder if she seriously doubted that he would ever turn his back on Pharaoh's gods to worship the God of his enslaved kin.  There must have been years of tight-throated, eyes-burning-with-tears prayers and pleas to the God of Joseph to not forget her son and let him rot in the riches of Egypt.

Even in this season, hard as it is to endure, I know my God is able to take what was (and is) planted in my sons, my ongoing prayers (feeble as they may be) and the faith (microscopic as it is) that He has given me, and make all that tempt to ensnare my boys serve the purpose of bringing them to the place where, they too, can choose the reproach of Christ as greater wealth over all that gleams and glitters (and becomes enslaving chains) in this world.  And if, when, they do that, it will be a miracle!  No one chooses the reproach of Christ over the fleeting pleasures of sin and the wealth of this world without a miracle!

Oh God of Jochabed! God of Moses!  God over Pharaoh!  My God!  You who rule the universe.  You who do not let a single sparrow fall from the sky without your okay.  You who designed motherhood and know the heartache of sons and daughters who leave your goodness to go after the cotton-candy rot of the world.  You who gave me sons and a heart to know you.  You who used my sin to bring me to the knowledge of my need for a Savior.  You who called me out of darkness into your wonderful light, who brought me from death to life despite my angst towards you and my wandering from you, who gave me taste buds to taste your goodness when I was intoxicated with the poison of the pleasures of sin.  Oh merciful God who loves and is just and poured out all judgement against sin on your only Son to save us from what we could never endure.  Hear my prayers for my sons.  Let no one keep them from coming to their Savior.  Give them the faith to choose the joy of You over all this world has to offer.  Give me the faith to stand when I want to lay down; to believe when I'm mocked.  May Christ be magnified in me!  Let my life bring you glory!  

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! - Psalm 90:17


Quieted,
Sheila

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the farm: Journal of a Milk Maid Day 3 {and thoughts on Nahum}


(Daylight and Daisy) 



(Daisy, the more timid of the two doelings, warming up to me and my hat)


(Daisy and Darla (the momma goat) 


(Daisy) 

I thought it was neat that both my doelings have these pretty markings on their backs.   They both have a black strip down their spine and star of white on the black stripe.  


(Daylight)

OK, I know this isn't my usual form on this blog.  Actual this blog has been anything but usual, regular, for a long time so I guess anything goes.  If you're over me and my goats already you might wanna avoid this blog for awhile.

I'm in caprine school.   And I'm loving it!

This is my third day milking Darla.  I'm finding that from the moment I wake up at 5:45 to milk her, my mind is on the care of these beautiful, fun creatures God has blessed me with, which are now producing a high quality whole food product for me and my household.  Bonus!

Last night I separated the kids from Darla, putting them in a large dog kennel.   You're supposed to keep them separate for 12 hours and then milk the doe.  But my girl doesn't last for 12 hours.  I pen them up at 8 pm and by 5:45 am she's screaming for relief.  Yesterday I milked her first while the kids screamed for breakfast.  This morning, I let them nurse for a few minutes (Actually only about a minute... that's about as long as Darla will let them go for before she seems annoyed and jumps over them.  But that's another subject I'm investigating.) and then took Darla to the milk stand.

I've put my milk stand (which my very nice neighbors are lending to me since they no longer have goats in milk) in our garage.  It's the most dust free area we have on our little "farm" aka dustbowl. (We are in the middle of getting the property laser leveled so that we can put up fencing and irrigate, so for now we have an acre plus of fine dirt blowing around.)  Walking Darla to the milk stand is not too much work although she is still a bit reluctant and not used to me handling her on a lead.  Getting her up on the milk stand is still slap stick comedy.  Picture a six-foot-tall, just-out-of-bed, blonde woman trying to hoist her black, dusty, protesting, approximately-100-pound Nubian onto a milk stand.

Once I get her up there though everything is just fine.  The kids are playing around at my feet, exploring the garage, my morning playlist is singing to me in the background and Darla and I start the milking process.

I did quite a bit of research about how to milk, when to milk, how often to milk, what equipment to use, etc.  As I said before, I was getting too perfectionistic about it and finally just went to Walmart.  This woman's blog was/is very helpful and is the model I'm using for my first time dairy goat raising experience.  Folowing her lead, and the info I got from Fias Co Farms on cleaning the udder and teats, my morning milking is starting to take form.   If you happened across this blog and you're looking to find info on raising a dairy goat or milking a goat I highly recommend The Prairie Homestead and Fias Co Farms.

This morning I got a little under a quart of milk.  I think for one 5-10 minute milking a day we're doing pretty good.

I am finding that there's definitely a widespread thought that goat milk is gross.  And I get it.  I really thought it would be off tasting myself.  I guess I figured I'd make cheese with it so I wasn't too worried if I didn't like the taste of the milk.  I so wish I could give out a sample to all the skeptics in my life.  My son Ryland, who is one of the biggest food/flavor/texture critics I know, loves it!  It's sweet and creamy, but not too creamy.  It has the consistency of whole cow's milk and leaves no funny aftertaste (which cow's milk does for me).  If you like milk at all I guarantee you would love fresh goat milk.   I'm sure the goat's milk you can buy in the health food store has a funny flavor because of the process and time on the shelf.  But the stuff in my fridge is delicious!  And it's good for you!  Seriously.  Have you ever read all the health benefits of goat's milk?

We aren't big milk drinkers in our family, but having a source of milk in our own backyard where I know what went into the milk and exactly how it was processed makes me feel really good about the milk we will be drinking in the future.

So today was a productive day and it's only 1:40 in the afternoon.  A quart of milk.  Hooves trimmed. Coat brushed.  Tail cleaned.  Underside and udders got a haircut (I'd rather not have falling hair in the pail of milk).  Pens cleaned.  Un-used pen measured for feedlot panels to go up to make room for mom and her growing doelings.   An hour's worth of research on breeding, registration, record keeping, grooming, milking, milk handling, cheese making,  ear-tatooing and feeding done.

I read Nahum today.  Have you ever read Nahum in the Bible?  Take away:  No one can stand before God and withstand his rightful indignation against evil (which every single one of us are infected with).  But God has provided Himself in the form of His Son to be our refuge.  We can't stand before his wrath but we can run to him and hide in him from it.

If this rubs you the wrong way, if you have a hard time with the thought that God has "indignation" towards you because of your sin, think about how you would feel towards say, your spouse, if he/she took your money, betrayed your trust, was unfaithful, was irritated by your presence and then was offended at you for being angry with them.

God is the perfect spouse.  He's the perfect person.  He's good.  Always.  He is not in the tiniest way perverse or unjust or corrupt or selfish.  He is love and he is just.  He created us and we are made in His image to display His character and magnify who He is. But instead we pervert His image in us.  We malign His character.  We putrefy who He is.  We perverse His goodness.  And then we deny that He even is.  We elevate ourselves as god and have not the least bit of desire for the One who made us and loves us so much as to not just wipe us out and start over, but rather send His own Son to bear all the weight of His indignation in our place.

God, of all people, has the right to be angry about the state of the human race and human heart.  Just one glimpse at the news, one sampling of history at any point in time is enough to make any one of us shake our heads in despair at the terrors of the world we live in.  Is there good?  Yes!  Oh yes!  Neighbors helping neighbors, friendships, the love of a husband, the joy of children, the taste of a good meal, even goats.  But these are the evidence that the good grace of God is preserving and keeping us from total rottenness, like salt keeps meat from decay.   These are graces to be thankful for and enjoyed, but they are not the diagnosis of our condition.  A person with terminal cancer may have flawless skin, a beautiful body and disposition, but inside they are dying.  Their condition is deadly even though they enjoy good things.

Our condition is deadly.  Running from God will not get you an escape from his rightful wrath.  Run to Him.  There you will find refuge.  A sure, safe place and healing from all your decay.



Quieted,
Sheila

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Journal of a Milk Maid: Day 1

Warning:  This post was written last night under the influence of head cold medicine.

I think I can add Milk Maid to my list of titles.

Today was my first day milking Darla.  This is her first freshening.  First time on the milk stand.  First time for everything.

I've been a little reluctant to start milking her.  Honestly, I'm having fun but I'm also taking this very seriously.  I feel like I'm discovering my place in the world is homesteading.  Some people love the city and the hustle and bustle of lights and action.  Me, I am finding myself giddy with happiness at the smell of alfalfa, the shoveling of goat droppings, the baaaing of momma and kids, and the tinny squirt of fresh milk hitting the stainless steel bucket.

So along with all the euphoria I'm feeling right now with my first experience raising dairy goats I'm also feeling the need to get it right.  I've been doing quite a bit of reading about dairy goats and milking and the benefits of raw goat milk vs. pasteurized goat milk.  I wanted to have all my ducks in a row before milking Darla, but yesterday I read a post by some person in the goat forum world that basically said:  If you have a goat in milk all you really need is a clean bucket... the rest is for show.  Now, I don't completely agree with that statement, but it did make me realize I didn't need every piece of designated dairy equipment before I began milking my doe.  So I gave up my online shopping list and just went out there with what I had and milked my goat.  This afternoon I set out to Walmart to look for the needed supplies and came up with all that I need for less than $80 which is about $80 less than I would have spent if I had ordered online the said dairy equipment.

I didn't get much milk for our first milking, but that's probably partly because I didn't separate the kids from the momma last night and partly because I didn't milk her for very long.  Like I said it was sort of a spur of the moment decision to stop researching and waiting for the perfect equipment and set up and just go out there and milk.  I feel good about how the first milking experience went.  Today began the practice that will soon become habit.

The 13 ounces I got from my brief milking of Darla this morning I decided to pasteurize.  After all the reading I've done, I think we will probably stick with raw milk.  It just makes sense.  But because this morning's milking was so spur of the moment, and because I wasn't sure that I did everything right as far as shaving and cleaning her udder, I decided to err on the side of caution and pasteurize the milk.

Tonight I did a blind taste test with the kids to see if they would be able to tell the difference between the whole milk we had in the fridge from Walmart and the freshly pasteurized goat's milk.  Surprisingly they both picked the goat's milk as tasting the best and they both identified it as the goat's milk.  They said they were surprised because they thought it would taste "funny" but it actually tasted creamier and sweeter.

Honestly, I remember the bitter, bucky taste of goat's milk I had a as a kid and in the back of my mind I feared that I was going to go through all this trouble and have a product I didn't like.  But it didn't turn out that way.  The goat's milk is really delicious.  It doesn't taste "funny" at all.  It's creamier and sweeter and leaves no bitter aftertaste.   Tomorrow, if all goes well, I'll keep the milk raw and use it.  I'll be interested to see if the taste is different from the pasteurized milk.

And here's a cute little guy I ran into on the way to get hay this morning:








 Quieted,
Sheila