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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Farmer Has Retired





When I look at people who have been working for a long time, it seems to me that they all fall into at least three different groups when it comes to the subject of retirement: 1) Those who fear retirement, 2) Those who can’t seem to acquire enough for retirement, and 3) Those who use work as a means to retirement.

The Farmer belongs to the last group. He’s a hard worker, and he has used a lot of his hard-working years to save up for retirement. He has never been able to sit and enjoy taking time off. I think it’s because he’s had his eye on a greater goal…retirement.

He typically left the house very early, and had at least a 45-minute drive to work. He was very diligent; working in the rain, snow, sleet and hail (the postman had nothing on him). He would often work late, go to bed early, and get up “Grumpy” (me), so I could fix his lunch for the day.

However, that has all changed. He has retired from his “real” job, and he’s learning to live an entirely different way. He’s sleeping in a bit later (I’m afraid that may change when the weather gets warmer), he refuses to go out and work in the rain or snow, and he’s spending way too much time contemplating.

As a son of a farmer, he learned early to work hard. He began following his father around and helping him with whatever he was doing. In fact, some of his most precious memories are chasing his dad out the door as he went out to do some work on the farm. They were always fixing vehicles and machinery or repairing fences. Lots of time was spent clearing the land, picking up rocks, and creating brush piles. And of course there was always wood to be cut, animals to be tended to, and an occasional building project.

Although he has retired from his real job, he has not retired from farming. These next few years are the years we have both been working towards; the years we can spend enjoying the farm. We are raising cattle, instead of building the herd. We get to look out off our porch at fields of grasses, instead of clearing land. And we get to enjoy the things around us, instead of always wanting more.

Oh, that doesn’t mean there won’t be building projects, and machinery to work on, or fences that will need mending, but for the most part he has plans of putting up hay, watching the cattle grow, and enjoying all that God has allowed us to acquire.

This brings to mind a story in which Christ told concerning covetousness. He said that a farmer spent his whole life building for himself. He had land, built barns, and gained riches. One day he stopped and looked at all he had acquired and decided to tear his barns down and build bigger barns to hold more of the things that he wanted. But before he could do that, God ended his life here on earth.

The Bible records that he was a fool, not because he achieved so much, but because as he gained everything he could to benefit himself, and never gave thought to prepare for eternity. Jesus said, “...beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” But we are to seek God’s redemption first, and then live according to His blessings.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

No matter what riches you have this side of Heaven (or lack thereof), if you do not prepare for eternity, in the end you will lose everything.


“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34





Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

This was supposed to be posted for Easter, which was yesterday. Oh well, the celebration of the Resurrection should never end!

Hope you all had a blessed Resurrection Day!




Without the Christ

Without His birth, where would I be?
In a stable stayed the three
Angels announced
Shepherds observed
Wisemen came to worship the Lord.

Without the Cross, where would I be?
All my sins on top of me.
Full of guilt
A price to pay
My sins would not have been washed away.

Without the Christ where would we be?
Dying for all humanity.
His blood removed
Our guilt and shame
He took our place, we took His name.

Without His resurrection where would we be?
Death is swallowed up in victory
Buried three days
He snatched Death’s key
And rose with life eternally.

                                                                                -Cindra Enloe

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Walking On Thin Ice


“I need a camera,” I informed The Farmer last November.
“I thought you had a good camera on your phone,” he reminded me.
“I do, but it doesn’t zoom far enough. I need a camera that zooms so I don’t have to get out in the cold and take pictures. Remember last year when the cow had her baby in the snow? I couldn’t get close enough to get a really good picture.”

I’m not sure he was truly convinced, but since it was right before Christmas, I had a really good chance of getting one. And I did. Doing the research, I got a great deal during the Black Friday sales (online, by the way).




And I’ve taken some great pics. I can sit in my sitting room and zoom in on the McD’s cup that is sitting on the counter and see the advertisement on the cup.




Can you see the cattle?



I’ve also taken some wintery shots off the deck when we had all that freezing snow the last couple of months.




                         

Unfortunately,  after I got the camera, I  lost my muse for a time, because The Farmer hadn’t been doing much around the farm. Well, he has fed hay, and scraped the feed lot, and fixed waterers, and shoveled snow, and chopped ice on the pond, but  it was too cold for me to get outside, and too far away from the porch for me to take pictures. Until the other day when he went out to spread red clover on the pastures.

We re-seed our red clover in our pastures every couple of years, because it’s the natural way to put nitrate back into the ground (nitrate helps the grasses grow). A good time to spread seed is while the snow is on the ground, and right before spring thaw. Since the weather seemed to be cooperating, you can imagine how excited I was to find out The Farmer was going to go do something I could take pictures of and write about. I was also silently hoping to take a video.

Hurrying to get my coat and boots on, I rushed out the door just in time to take a picture of The Farmer pulling away. “Click” (always take two) “Click.” 




Walking along trying to adjust the zoom, I all of sudden found myself lying flat on my back, with a cracked elbow, rattled teeth, and a throbbing backside! The only thing that I was aware of was the fact that I threw my camera as I went down. As I lay there getting my bearings, my rendezvous with The Farmer was forgotten. Completely unnoticed by him, I hobbled into the house to access the damage, and was thankful to realize that nothing was broken. Later, retelling the story to The Farmer, I was amazed to find how much concern he had for my camera. I assured him that I too had come away unscathed.     

Later, as I was again walking outside (being more watchful this time), I thought about how quickly my world was “turned up-side down.” How I was going through the motions of my day, thinking, planning, doing, and then in a split-second my feet were gone from out from under me and I was lying helpless on the ground. All my thoughts, plans, and motions had been changed to something completely different with that one small slip on the ice.

Jonathan Edwards (a 18th century preacher during America’s Great Awakening) spoke of this very thing in his well-known sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He used Deuteronomy 32:35 as his text, “…their foot shall slide in due time.”

His sermon can be read here >>Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God , or you can listen to a reenacted version >>HERE<<. It’s a long read, but it is so worth the time it takes.

I was reminded of his key statement, “…their foot shall slide in due time.” When I slid on the ice, there was no warning, no flashing lights, no sounding alarms, and no stopping once I began to fall. My feet slipped and gravity took me down.

Edwards compares this with life on this earth and eternity. We all are walking around thinking about our plans and what we’ll be doing tomorrow and the next day, but none of us are promised tomorrow. No one is ever guaranteed more than the second in which we are living in right now.

All of us are one split-second away from eternity. And once that journey begins, all of our thoughts, plans, and motions will cease on this side of eternity. In a lot of cases, it comes without warning; a health issue, an accident, etc., and then we are on the other side of eternity.

Several years ago I made a very conscious decision to place Christ on the throne of my life. In God’s word He told me that I had offended Him; that I was an enemy of His, because I had been born into sin (we all have). And God cannot, and will not, associate with sin.

I read that God desired for me to be adopted into His family for eternity. He said that He had already paid for my sins that I had committed, and the sins that I wasn’t even aware of, because Christ took the punishment on the cross that was meant for me. And although Christ had taken on the sins of the whole world, there was still something I had to do to make this gift of salvation mine. I had to accept it. The work was done, the gift was given, the relationship between a holy God and an unrighteous people had been reconciled, but until I personally accepted His Gift of forgiveness, I could not be reconciled with God. We could never have a relationship unless I acted on His gift. And I did when I was 21 years old.

However, if God would not have sustained me, if He would not have had mercy to keep my feet on solid ground, if I would have slipped into eternity before I had accepted this Gift, my eternity would have been full of darkness, agony, and total separation from God.

Being a Christian is more than a religion to me, it’s the fulfillment of my purpose in life. It’s the reason I was created, and it’s the reason I wanted to share this with you. I’m not being trite when I ask, but have you been reconciled to God? Have you made a choice to follow God’s law and trust in His gift of eternal life made available to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? I truly hope you have.

When I had questions about eternity, I found my answers in God’s Word. Reading the books of John, Romans, and Psalms answered a lot of my questions. I hope it helps you, too.


“…God commendeth (demonstrates) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…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…

We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." 
Romans 5:8-11

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Miss You In The Ordinary


Recently, my mother-in-law passed away after a short bout with cancer. Up to that point in her life, she had always been healthy. At age 86, she didn’t take any medications, and she would walk 2 miles a day—Monday through Friday (on Saturday if the weather was really pleasant).

Often her daughters would come over and walk with her, and she would always encourage me to walk with her, also. Being her next-door neighbor was a good enough reason to do it, but I always had an excuse: I was too busy, too tired, too grumpy, too lazy (probably the real reason). At one point I justified not walking with her because I didn’t want to get too attached to her.

Judge me if you must, but this reasoning came after her sister had passed away. For years, every morning between 7:00 and 7:30, she and her sister would call each other just to talk and check up on one another. After her sister passed, I saw the pain and loneliness that my mother-in-law had felt for her sibling, and I made a conscience decision that I didn’t want to suffer that.

Knowing that she was a bit older than I, I assumed she would go before me and I was preparing myself emotionally (some psychologist out there can work on that if they need to). But when I began to reason within myself, I saw this for what it was…just another excuse (a twisted one perhaps).

Eventually, I began to walk daily with her. She encouraged me, prodded me on, and took it easy on me those first few days while I adjusted to her walking pace. Actually, she was just recovering from a cold that she had harbored for several weeks, so she was only walking one mile a day in the beginning, and I was able to keep up with her (wow, that’s pretty sad, since I’m 43 years younger)

After several months of walking, talking, griping, and laughing together, she found out that she had a very aggressive form of cancer and was given 4 to 6 months to live. But like everything else she faced in life, she stayed strong, faithful, and level-headed. She got her house in order and began telling her kids how she wanted everything done. She planned out her own funeral, took care of all of her financial business, pretty much decided who was going to get what, and assured us all that she would be okay, because she had accepted Christ as her Savior and she knew her final destination (although we already knew this, because it showed in her everyday life).

My mother-in-law was many things; loving, giving, faithful, energetic, stubborn and proud. When she became too weak to walk with me, she still encouraged (and threatened) me to keep on walking for my health. And I did, mainly because there was a need for someone to stop in each day and help her with some meds (it kept me accountable).

She was a strong woman and wasn’t used to being helped out. But eventually, the cancer made it impossible for her to be by herself. We kids began taking turns staying with her, and my fear of becoming too close became my reality. We spent weeks doing ordinary stuff for her; talking with her, reminiscing with her, eating with her, watching TV with her, and just being with her.

And now I find myself missing her in the ordinary—when I walk past her house, Sunday afternoons, eating candy bars and drinking sodas, watching Matlock, and a hundred other things that became daily routines. So many things, that I couldn’t begin to list, and no one else would understand, because they are just my memories.

 
gramma
I Miss You in the Ordinary
I see you in the ordinary,
In the things that happen day-to-day.
I see you in the ordinary
As I’m walking along life’s way.
 
I miss you in the ordinary,
In the things I daily do.
I remember you in the ordinary,
And realize how much I miss you.

In the commonplace of living
You have affected all of my days.
I miss you in the ordinary-
I miss your extraordinary ways.
 
 
 
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:10







Monday, January 20, 2014

An American Dream

An American Dream

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream to day.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with is vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and  black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, delivered this historical speech on August 28, 1963, in the middle of one of the most turbulent times in America’s history.

There is no denying that racism and prejudicial treatment was rampant in parts of the United States, and there was a need for change. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a successful leader in bringing about a lot of that change for our nation.

Dr. King fought for human equality. His famously orchestrated March on Washington had a big impact on our country. While quoting from The Declaration of Independence, King encouraged our leaders to be mindful of the statement that all men are created equal. And this declaration goes farther than King quoted. It goes on to say, “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As a nation, we have come a long way. We now have laws that prohibit racial discrimination in employment and have ended racial segregation in our public schools. We have a president sitting in the Oval Office that would not have been able to be there 50 years ago. Other discrimination barriers have been broken also. If you are an American, no matter what race or gender, it is possible for you to rise to the pinnacle of government or private business. You can own your own business, work for someone else, or run for any office in the country. You have the liberty to pursue your own happiness.

Unfortunately, there are those who think that the liberty to pursue happiness, has become a right to be happy. Just like money can’t buy happiness, neither can handouts. People who are given things without working for them tend to become ungrateful and dissatisfied (just take a look at your kids at Christmas time).

This nation was set up in a way that everyone could have the opportunity to make a living by human ingenuity and hard work, and then be able to prosper through modest spending and wise investments—not on race or gender.

In fact, I think we need to change the way employers hire their employees. Can you imagine going in for an interview and the potential employer not having you fill out a resume that asks for your race or your gender, but instead has questions about your morality, your loyalty, and your attitude. Wouldn’t it be great to be chosen for a job or position based strictly on your ability, intelligence, wisdom, or endurance level? My! People may actually begin to appreciate their employment, while employers may actually be able to hire and fire according to performance. (wonder why no one has thought about that?)


Unfortunately, as sinful human beings, there will always be some prejudice. It’s hard to see things through other people’s eyes. Prejudice is not a political issue, it’s a heart issue, which can only be altered by Divine intervention.