Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm not alone in this boat

Today I'm going to take a brief break from sharing our adventures. I have had a few things rolling around my heart that I really want to remember. 

I know we all have seasons in our lives that feel like we are moving from one storm to another. Quite honestly if someone asked me what the last year and a half has been like. I would say horrible. I'm not just talking little thunder claps. I have felt like we have lived in one big hurricane! 
I'm not going to go into all the details, though I did write about this once on our other blog.

And here we are again, coming out of that storm and into what appears to be another right on the horizon. I learned before about the faithfulness of God in the midst of challenges we face. I appreciate that I can claim Romans: 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I know storms are a part of life. Part of our existence in this imperfect fallen world.
 But, I can't help but admit that this transition, this new storm, has also taken its toll on me both Emotionally and Spiritually. We are yet another cross country move later, facing  a whole host of challenges that an expanding family faces when they leave their familiar surroundings. And I can't help but wonder why things are just as hard as before? Albeit in different ways, but still very hard. I was beginning to doubt this was the path God wanted us to take after all. But, of course that is what the enemy wants us to do isn't it? Doubt.

One major blessing down here comes in the form of a radio station, who happens to play sermons by David Jeremiah of Shadow Mountain Community Church nearly every evening as I cook dinner. I cannot help but believe it is no accident that lately he seems to be speaking  about things which are extremely applicable to our lives right now. One message in particular high-lighted a passage of scripture I had already been meditating on.   
   It is Mark 4:35-41
The heading in my bible reads:
   Jesus Calms the Storm
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Now, commonly when I read this particular passage I notice two things. One, the disciples were in a storm, and they cried out to Jesus to save them.  And Jesus had mercy on their poor scared souls and calmed the storm. (Check, I have been doing that for months it seems. And he is faithful to either bring the storms in my life to an end for however brief a time or see me through them.)
The second thing that always strikes me is that Jesus didn't stop the storm until they asked. I know I always try to manage for a while in my own strength before I break down in desperation and ask for Gods help. I don't know why, but I do...Yes, I am working on that.

But in that period of time when I'm trying to figure things out I always have these nagging wonderings. Why me? Hey, I'm human, and I wonder sometimes why. The last two years especially. So, much has happened that made me sure we were walking in Gods will, and we have received so much blessing.  
Only to have what seemed like the polar opposite happen next. Beginning with our unexpected move back to Michigan, and an extremely hard year that followed, and ending in my husband, injured and unable to do the work he had always done there. Talk about a scary storm. Yet, God never left us, He faithfully healed Kyle and provided a new job albeit 900 miles from Michigan and again He worked out every detail.
And so we moved, yet still even with that storm behind me I feel like we are in a whole other storm. This one not as severe, but still I would love to catch my breath for just a moment. 
 I confess its in these moments when I'm trying to breath from one storm to another that I always feel the most confused. Along with the why question, I find myself wondering... Did we navigate that last storm right? Did we obey and follow the path God presented? I think I prayed it through, didn't I? I was listening, wasn't I? Did we make a mistake, because it sure looks like another storm is brewing? Or is this the same storm? 
I could go on, but I don't think it is necessary, you get the idea. I have doubts sometimes...(now here I just hope I'm not the only person who has ever asked such questions.)

So, were does that leave things? Oh yes. So the other day I was mulling over this particular scripture in Mark when this sermon comes on. And answered my most burning question of the day. Which was: Did we really follow Gods leading to come down here? And do you know what I heard and realized? Jesus said to the disciples:   “Let us go over to the other side.” 

I cant believe I missed this all along. Jesus said to go. Now what happens next is just as important. "36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him."
The "they" being the disciples took Jesus and left.   
They didn't hesitate or mull around the weather conditions. They went as directed with Jesus and STILL they found themselves in the midst of a storm. 

(I know this may be elementary for most of you, but gosh was this awfully significant for me.)  

Even when we are living in Gods will we can still find ourselves in some stormy waters. 

And while this is significant what happens next is even more important.
"36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him [Jesus] along, just as he was, in the boat."  Jesus was in the boat. AND he was even comfy enough to take a nap! 

Now we all know the little scolding he gave the disciples for lacking in faith. After all He the Son of God did say, lets go to the other side, which would imply that they would get there. But I think it is also important to note that he still had understanding for them. and calmed the waters. 
And even in the midst of our current life storms, I can honestly say I do feel the waters calming. I will admit though, just a week ago I was hitting my knees crying to God the, "Are you going to let us drown?" prayer.

I thank the Lord that he sent this reminder, that He is in my boat and my families boats as well (see vs. 36 "There were also other boats with him.") and we will get to the other side.  

Yes, there will be more storms, but I hope and pray I will approach the next one with a little more faith. Maybe, maybe not, but I think I've got the concept rolling.

My prayer: Lord, I pray this post blesses someone as learning this lesson has surely blessed me. Thank you for being in my boat. -Amen.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Trip to the Cemetery Pasture & some things I want to remember

The other night Kyle took us on a tour of some of the pastures on the ranch. It truly is a beautiful place in a very different way than I have ever experienced. And even though it was very hot we had a wonderful time.

One of the most interesting realizations is that we live on a piece of American History. Now, I don't know the whole story or how it fits into the grand scheme of things, but I find it fascinating nonetheless. Before I could write this story I did do a little research to confirm and understand our findings.

The story as we have been told goes something like this:
Before we were here, The ranch property was part of a large plantation. For whatever reason the land was reclaimed by the forest and then later logged. The logged land was later purchased by the Barnes, the cleared portions cultivated into pasture land for the cattle and the ranch was born.

But ever since this tour and because of what we were shown, I have been wondering and trying to imagine what this place 160+ years ago might have been like. What kind of plantation was it?  That is really up to the imagination. But, common crops of the 1800's were: Peanut, cotton, corn, beans, tobacco, etc...
And as you would expect to know there was a plantation owner who also apparently owned some slaves.
Knowing this has had my imagination running wild for the past couple of days. I wonder what kind of person the Planter (that is a plantation owner) was? Was he a hard man, as I have been conditioned to believe any person would be in order to "own" another human being? Or perhaps he was a family man who just followed with the common practice of his culture at the time. Was he well off, or poor to start? What was his family like? Did he have children? Was he kind to the people who worked for him? What were the slaves like? Understanding of their circumstances? Frustrated? Confused? Fearful? Happy? Could they really have moments of joy? Were they Christian? Did they try to live out what the scriptures teach about slaves obeying their masters? Or did they hold to another belief systems? In my research I read that though many were Christian, many were also Muslim or held to beliefs of their African Culture.
So what you may wonder stirred up so many questions while touring some pastures?
Kyle took us to two pastures, in among a thicket of gum trees, pine and oak is a cemetery. This cemetery had three distinct graves. They were very monument like in appearance. One almost like a elongated pyramid made out of crumbling bricks. The other two were also built up on the ground with large flat stones. Each had a large headstone, though only one was fully intact. There were also a few smaller headstones laying around with just initials on them. All were very weather worn and difficult if not impossible to read.  
There was only one headstone that was complete. By tracing the worn letters with my fingers, I think it said: Sarah  Morris, one date was 1852. But this is just a best guess. The other headstones where too broken and worn to figure anything out on them.
Because of the ornate nature of the graves it has been assumed that this cemetery was for the Plantation owner and his family.

We continued on our tour, checking calves and cows, enjoying the sunny hot evening.

The last pasture Kyle took us to had no cows in least at the moment. Ahead of us on top of the hill is a large grove of trees. This pasture is known as the Cemetery Pasture.

We stopped near the grove and began walking. Within the trees it was cool and the earth was turned from cattle who had shaded up there a few weeks earlier. Every so often you would see small stones buried into the ground with another in direct line a few feet away. The feeling of this cemetery was very different from the one we had seen just a short while before and one might have even missed its existence had we not known it was there. This is the place of an old slaves cemetery.

It is extremely difficult for me to grasp this place as a part of our countries history. And yet to see it and learn about it makes it very dear and real. Because I was uncertain if this could really be a slave cemetery I did some research. this cemetery matched anthropological descriptions almost exactly. Right down to the types of markers used, and orientation of the graves. One of the most interesting things to notice is that in this cemetery there are head and foot markers. Many of the stones appeared to have some shape to them, with squared or rounded edges.

The cemetery was also very organized with all the markers in a East to West line. I learned that when buried it was important that the body of the person face East. There where two main schools of belief for burring a person this way. One was that a slave should not  have to turn around when the Angel Gabriel blew the trumpet for the sunrise. The other belief is that the person should face Africa.
I learned that Slave funerals were very important affairs held mostly at night or on Sundays, probably because this was the only time available. It was common for cemeteries to be on discarded land such as brush thickets, or forests and even in live stock pastures. There was so much more I learned but, this post is stretching on as it is. If you are curious you can read some more here.

This brief glimpse into history has made me appreciate this place on a whole new level. I hope that I will remember all I am learning about the South. It is a place with a rich history, and a people who are proud of their heritage for reasons you may not expect (But that is a whole other post.) And though Colton and Alex enjoyed this grave hunt, I could not find it in myself to explain the intricacies and the depth of what these places mean. But, my hope is by writing this now, I will remember and someday wherever we are I can tell him we were here. And in part this is their history too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

On our walk today...

As usual we stepped out for a little hike today. It was a cool 90 degrees by 10am (yes I jest.)
On our walk we.... 

Checked the drinker for tadpoles.
 Yep, they were there, and have grown approx. an 1/8 of an inch over the past few days.
 We watched the heifers bed down for the day. With the heat you will find little grouping scattered throughout the pasture under the sparse shade of the Georgia Pines.
 We recovered a Roly Poly and carried him with us for quite a while.
 We met daddy at the corrals to help him doctor a cow.
 Colton and Alex enjoyed watching dad doctor a cow that is battling hoof rot.
 Kyle spraying the feet with an antiseptic.
 Cow back out, time to unwind....Well at least time to take off the spurs.

 Then we headed home for it was getting too hot.  
That is how we spent our morning, which is pretty normal. The treat was seeing Kyle, that is not so normal. It is a 1/2 mile from our house to the corrals. The rest of our Saturday was spent running errands, buying our first Georgia Peaches, and then home for lunch. Later Kyle will come get us and we'll ride out and check waters and cows in the mule. I am very much looking forward to this as not only will it be good family time, but we will get explore new parts of the ranch.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Its hard to know where to begin when it feels like you are already at the end. But, I will do my best.
I realize that statement is a bit confusing but really we are at the end of the season over here.
Because of Georgia's unique (read: Hot) climate, some adjustments need to be made to accommodate the raising of cattle.  One such adjustment is the reversal of seasons.
As a background let me explain our previous experience...
When we lived in Montana the season so to speak was kicked off with calving. Usually in early spring, (February/March'ish). Followed by branding, then  re-breeding and turning out to pasture for the summer. Then  putting up hay for the winter. Followed by gathering in the fall and finally shipping.
After calves are shipped there was usually a quick breather to prepare for winter and recoup and then it would start all over again.
***Please note, I am going off of memory here and anyone who knows better than me is certainly free to offer their corrections.***

So, back to seasons in the south. It seems that because of the warmer climate our "down-time" will actually be midsummer when the temperatures reach their peak. (This years prediction is a high of up to 120 degrees. Yes, I am sweating just thinking about it.) Anyway for the comfort and profitability of the cattle they have switched the season. So, Calving begins in the fall, September, I think. Followed by Branding in January and then breeding and turn out...well this ranch is about 300+- acres so probably more like pasture rotation. Then weaning and Shipping in the spring.

So, like I said we have gotten here at what feels like the end of the season. Another difference is that for this shipping it began at 7pm. Mostly for the sake of the steers. I don't think I need to remind anyone it is hot down here. They are also splitting the herd, sending the steers to their partner ranch in Nebraska to eat grass in a cooler climate where they will then sell them in the fall. As to the heifers, some will be used as replacements, and the rest will be sold at the local cattle auction here in a few weeks.

As to the actual event of shipping... it was a pretty quiet affair. They brought in the steers in the morning, and began loading the truck at around 7pm. There was only one truck and when all was said and done Kyle walked in the door at 11:45p.m. Only to be called back because the truck was over weight. So, back to work he went and unloaded a few calves, then they reorganized the truck and finally sent it on its way just before 1:00a.m. Needless to say it was a very long day.
Shipping Truck

Now you may wonder what else has been going on... Well the day after shipping started early and was spent getting the boss and the other hand around to head to the partner ranch in Nebraska to meet the calves and take part in their annual branding. And though a branding always is a great deal of fun and fellowship I am quite happy to have Kyle here taking care of things and maybe, just maybe getting a few hours of family time in.  


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here we go again...

Some may have noticed my absence from this blog, some may not, but if you had read my last few posts all would have concluded we were done with our ranching adventure.

But rather than go all the way back to where I left off, I'm going to just jump right in. (If you truly must know what we've been up to in the mean time, I did log some of it here.)
 We are a month into this new adventure, which has unfolded in all the ways that make you certain that this is the path God has planned for us. And while the adjustment is still happening. I still want to document it. I intend to be very real in these posts. So, do not expect all Roses, there will indeed be a few thorns. But above all I hope that anyone reading this and any future posts might get a glimpse of what it is like to relocate cross country, and attempt to make a living as ranch hands, or whatever job God has given us.

But on to the Story:

We have moved. We left Western Michigan just over a month ago. My husband Kyle has been hired to work on a Ranch in Central Georgia. It has been quite an ordeal to pack up and move cross country again, for one we still had our little house in Michigan (Which by the grace of God we sold just before our departure.)
And secondly, who Ranches in Georgia? Well, the Barnes do. And they are good people, who have carved their own little slice of the west in the Georgia pines and whose hearts desire is to raise good beef and exceptional Ranch Horses.
Let me give you a little tour:

This is the main Ranch.

Our little home.

They raise Black Angus cows, these are some of the replacement heifers.

One of the pastures. Though you wouldn't call it mountainous, Central Georgia is far from flat. And lets not forget the heat. This picture was taken in the evening where the temp had dropped to a cool 75 degrees. This will most definitely take some getting used to.

The view from my bedroom window.
Well, that kind of gives you the lay of the land.