Warm Wednesday Words: Wellington and the Girls

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Backyard chicken flocks can be a fun hobby.  The high protein content of fresh, fertilized eggs add health to the list of benefits.  After having given what was left of our chickens away before our move from Pine Valley Farm (and losing the rooster who would spend his final days in local notoriety as “The Center Point Rooster”, Tony and I eagerly looked forward to the next time we could have chickens.   This time would have to wait a year and a half so that we could get resettled  into our new smaller home at “the top”.  Tony is skilled at building designs and drew out a layout for a coop that can be divided in half for future times of raising new chicks separate from the mature ones and a yard that will be divided so that new grass can be growing in the unused half.

IMG_7731I spent hours pouring over lists of desired traits that we would like to have in the hens.  Finally in April the order was off and we eagerly awaited the chicks, which get sent over a weekend so I am thankful for God’s design of the yoke sac keeping them nourished during a 3-4 day shipment.

IMG_8166I researched the perfect rooster type for us.  We have had too many aggressive roosters in the past who have taken on various members of our family over the years, including yours truly.  If you’ve not been attacked by an aggressive rooster, I will just say it’s not something you would enjoy.  I had a battle with one at our Bourbon farm.  There was no one within hearing distance as this driven rooster kept backing up and charging me repeatedly. I am happy to say I finally won the ongoing battle unscathed by his spurs, but only because there happened to be a cast iron skillet laying in the barn yard, which I used to slap the rooster upside the head each time he charged me.   After I relayed that harrowing adventure to Tony that rooster was in the pot the same day with some dumplings.  And I felt very little pity and enjoyed my dinner.  There were several other such rooster stories over the years that our kids relish relating.  So, if the chicken magazine lists are correct, there are roosters who are calm and friendly.  I wanted one with bright color variation to boot.  The Welsummer fit the bill, so we got a few straight run Welsummers hoping one would be a rooster and that’s exactly what happened.  He is a bit young for this to be conclusive, but so far,unlike the hens, he is wildly fearful and paranoid.  I wonder if this is part of the non aggressive part of his personality.  We asked Caleb to name him and he chose Spike, after a childhood cockatiel.  We added “Wellington” for a classy prelude to “Spike”.

IMG_8190We also have two Welsummer hens.  I was delighted to visit a friend and fellow chicken connoisseur recently and discover that she had a few Welsummers including a Welsummer rooster.  She showed me their eggs and they are the darkest brown eggs I have ever seen.  They also can be broody, are hardy, are economical eaters, friendly and adaptable to confinement.

IMG_8104 I chose three Barred Rocks just because they are pretty, friendly, easy to handle, robust and cold hardy.

IMG_8121The Barred Rocks are just one of several of the friendly types that are very interested in toes!  Ouch.

IMG_8111We ordered two Dorkings because they are cold hardy, great brooders, adaptable to confinement, calm, steady, gentle, easily handled, somewhat rare and pretty.  Pretty puts it mildly.  Their coloring and feather variation make them stunningly beautiful.  We wanted a few hens whose genetics include broodiness so that next spring, when we may take a notion for some new chicks, we can hope for a hen to do all the miraculous work of hatching eggs and guarding chicks, rather then an incubator and me.

IMG_8130 Two of the tried and true Buff Orpingtons were on my list because they are good brooders, hardy, adaptable to confinement or free range, docile and easily handled.  These two gals are the quickest to show curiousity and friendliness.

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IMG_8141Also tried and true are a couple Black Australorps.  They are good brooders, good mothers, very cold hardy, adaptable to confinement or free-range, quiet, docile and easily handled.

IMG_8210I was not previously familiar with Blue Cochins, but read that they are excellent brooders, good mothers, robust and cold hardy, adaptable to confinement or free-range, peaceful, friendly and easily handled.  They are very large birds.  Profuse layers they are not; however.  And having spent many mornings watching our chickens before our day “starts”, we can say that these beautiful cochins are mischievous and comical to watch with their unusual large size and feathered feet.  My mom and my aunt Earleen (both widows who spend a few days together every few months in giddy camaraderie) were “honored” to have these two comedians named after them.

IMG_8199These two Delewares have promise to be profuse layers, hardy in heat and cold, adaptable to confinement or free-range, calm and friendly.  These two bonded with Tony even when very young and always showed interested in pecking at his crocks and being picked up by him.

IMG_8192For profuse rich brown egg laying, good broodiness and mothering, very hardiness to cold, adaptability to confinement or free-range, quietness, docility and ease of handling, I ordered five Rhode Island Reds.

IMG_8212-001So for fun, food and fellowship and self sufficiency back yard chickens fill the bill.

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Warm Wednesday Words: Reaching for God

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I love to have worship times to reach uninhibited toward God and feel His presence.  When I draw near to Him in worship He is always there making His presence known in intimate ways.  Even when there is a wilderness path to follow, or ocean depths to swim, His presence becomes all the more real when I purpose to reach toward Him calling on His Name, and all the more as the way leads on to rugged terrain and sometimes less traffic.  When the darkness of a tunnel closes in, He carries me through the unknown territory or sends a “stretcher bearer” to pick me up and speak words of encouragement, often with purposeful cheers expressing more belief and confidence in me then I momentarily have in myself.

And then I feel His presence even closer and His compassion and friendship even dearer.  As He sees fit, He brings me to interludes of easier terrain, lighthearted days, and fun times.   But soon the journey resumes. He supplies friends and stretcher bearers as needed, and He, Himself  walks beside and helps shoulder the load, lifting my face to look up to the Hills.  This is the pattern He uses with all His children and it is not our place to judge the path of another Christ follower walking in obedience to the Word, but instead to encourage each other in our different pursuits of Him because we will all have times of both being the encourager and stretcher bearer as well as times of needing encouragement and a stretcher and often even simultaneously.

As Bellarive has written in their song,”The Father’s Heart”, ‘When I am next to Your heart I feel Your love pouring out on me now.  I’m never gonna let You go.  Life a flood rushing in I’m gonna swim in the depths of Your ocean.  I’m never gonna let You go…Heaven come fill this place.  Open the flood gates.  I’m reaching for the rhythm of my Father’s heartbeat.  Shake my soul with the sound.  I feel it right now.  I’m dancing to the rhythm of my Father’s heartbeat beating.  It’s beating just for me.”

Do you have times of reaching toward Him in worship and tuning your heart to the rhythm of His?

Warm Wednesday Words: I am a Debtor

to grace a debtorI recently “liked” a blog post on facebook that talked about the grace God gives us when we need to step back momentarily from a church body and heal..   It sometimes appears God does give more grace in those situations then we give each other, even if we are partially or completely at fault.   Like the blogger, I have felt God’s comfort and healing in short “time out” seasons, have experienced God deeply in private worship and devotions, have felt His presence in the “mundane”, have felt His love and healing in the sweetness of my family members, family events, and a few friends who are willing to fellowship on an intimate level, found deep fulfillment in seeking my husband’s approval in our home and family as his helpmate, and felt God’s guidance as I move back into corporate fellowship refilled with grace received and grace to extend.

So my “like” was definitely one of acknowledgment and understanding that sometimes God leads us to a change.  But the deepest spiritual blessings in my own life have so far come about by trusting Him within the hard places, knowing we’re all just a bunch of messed up folks in equal need of grace.  As a dear friend and mentor said, ‘Why add the problems of others into the mix we each already have going on inside us?’  Because I serve Christ, I am not free to do anything but follow Him.  I am His bondslave trying to follow where He is leading me.  It is sometimes through fiery trials which He uses to refine.  It is often in places where I have absolutely no choice but to trust in Him and His promises.  It might be in places of loneliness, humility or misunderstanding, especially if my focus is on myself.  It is often in places where He would have me be bold for Him without knowing the response.  It definitely includes places that are tender and broken.   Where He leads me is never just about me!

Oswald Chambers said in ‘My Utmost for His Highest’,  July 12 devotional, “Am I building up the Body of Christ or am I looking for my own personal development only?…To fulfill God’s design means entire abandonment to Him….My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, Not even blessing, but Himself, my God” and in the July 15 devotional, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only….Quit praying about yourself and be spent for others as the bondslave of Jesus.  That is the meaning of being made broken bread and poured-out wine in reality.”

What a revival we would have if we really lived like this.  A portion of Matt Redman’s, “We Could Change the World” lyrics say it well,  ‘Could we live like Your grace is stronger Than all our faults and failures?… Could we live like Your ways Are wiser than our understanding? Could we live like this?  Could we live like this?…..We’re saying, “yes, Lord, yes, Lord!”…What else could we say, what else could we say?’

We are all debtors to something.  What are you a debtor to?   I want to hold onto God’s Word and the promises He has confirmed in my heart.  My feelings and others’ opinions may or may not align with those Truths, but I am a debtor to God and His truths!

Warm Wednesday Words: Watch for God

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As we do Vacation Bible School this week at our church, we are wearing bracelets that say “Watch for God” as reminders to keep tracking God in our personal life.  Since God’s mercies are new every morning, it takes “watching” to see them each day.   If I’m not watching for God and His mercies then I often not only miss the sweetly personal supernatural, but default to complaining, fear, worry, etc.  The more I train my eye to watch for God, the more I see Him at work and my eye becomes trained to see the blessing in something that at first glance may just seem like something negative.

To watch for God at work in trials is like seeing drops of water in arid places.  The first definition for “arid” in Dictionary.com is: “being without moisture; extremely dry; parched: arid land; an arid climate”.  In our lives arid places can symbolize those times of trials and stretching, often lengthy and difficult.  But unlike geographically arid regions, which result in fruitlessness, “arid” life seasons can actually stimulate “fruit” production.  Our difficult seasons cause us to either watch for God and see His mercies, or become bitter and miss the God sightings.  

When we choose to watch for God at work in our arid places, we see mercy drops and sometimes showers even in our deserts.   Oswald Chambers said, “…God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality.”

“And the parched ground shall become a pool” (Isa. 35:7),  “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” (Isa. 41:18).  I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” (Ezek. 34:26)  God promises showers of mercy and blessing upon our arid places.  Are you watching for Him in faith?

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Warm Wednesday Words: Give Up & Let the Nets Down

In recent years I have increasingly begun to give up.  I can waste alot of time thinking, praying a script out for God or myriads of other ways that “seem right to a man“, but until I sit in a prayer time or engage in a worship time and “give up” some things to God, I may be just spinning my wheels. .  I know I’m not alone in this because Peter (in Luke 5:4-6) also argued with Jesus just a tad when he was caught up in his own efforts and hesitant to believe in the “resting in Jesus” principle.

come unto me“When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’  Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing!  But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.’  When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear.”  Peter claimed they had worked hard all night, but now Jesus only asked him to let the nets down.  Since they hadn’t caught any fish before this, their hard work must’ve been in letting the nets down and pulling them up, moving to different spots, managing the boat, etc.  But at Jesus command, there was no work, just a giving up of the “work” to Jesus.  The nets were immediately heavy with fish.

luke5_nets_1000Though Peter was bone weary and could hardly see the miracle coming, He obeyed His master and reaped a reward.  It was a bit like Christ asking you and me to lay down pride, defenses, guard and worries and trust Him.  It is a giving up of my own way.  Whether in regard to relationships, ministry, missions or wild abandoning trust for some “roller coaster ride” I never envisioned being on, putting my net down for Christ to do the work while I rest in Him is the best way.

trust in GodIn his June 27th devotional, Oswald Chamber said, “Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives.  Our personal property and possessions are a matter of indifference, we have to sit loosely to all those things; if we do not, there will be panic and heartbreak and distress….Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it…Go steadily on with what I have told you to do and I will guard your life.  If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.”

So remind me to give up if you catch me striving.  What do you need to give up to Christ and what nets do you need to let down?

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