Gave you a sunrise the other day. The sunsets around here compete for the title of “most spectacular” as well!
Day 40. Today Mary and I are finishing a 40 day prayer challenge. For about the last 3rd of it, we added fasting. This has changed us! Now, don’t get to riled up. My jokes are still just as bad. Maybe even worse. I’m pretty sure the Lord is adding a Bad Joke Ministry to my life’s work in addition to everything else, so look out. We’re not moving from the Double Portion Ranch, not changing churches, clothing styles or anything like that. What’s changed is the future. We’ve been given dreams. A hope and a future! We’ve been given a ministry! Jesus began his ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting. It was His foundation. Then, after handily swatting Satan with God’s Word, He changed the world and the future. He is, of course, God, so He’s got a fair advantage over the rest of us. But! I’m God’s kid. And his inheritance is UN-DOUBLE P’n-BELIEVABLE!
It’s funny how things happen. I didn’t want to start this prayer challenge. I knew it was coming. My church was going to do it corporately with one of the express purposes of asking God for direction in our lives. Well, I wanted that for sure. I’d been seriously frustrated with the lack of direction I felt I had in my life. This sounded like it would be a very good thing. Exactly what I was looking for even. I suppose in retrospect, though I wanted it pretty badly, I didn’t really expect much. Just like everyone else, I struggle with faith and doubt. The double kicker in this case though was that I also struggle with depression. And by struggle I mean if I don’t take medication for it, I make Eeyore look like a real party animal! Heeee Hawwww! It’s been more or less under control for the last 20 plus years but in the 3 weeks prior to starting this prayer journey, it was as if the medicine had just flat out stopped working. I had not experienced depression like this since I first started having it. I knew I needed to get to a doctor to get this worked on but even my efforts to do that were being blocked. I missed 3 weeks of work. I didn’t care about much anything (called the “don’t give a hecks”). And the last thing I wanted to do was try and get close to God and hear Him. Actually I just couldn’t do that. I told Mary that in my current condition I couldn’t do this and it would do me no good. She had already started it though and said she understood.
The study we used for this journey is a book by Mark Batterson called Draw the Circle. It’s the action book that followed up one he wrote called The Circle Maker. Two years ago I had never heard of this Batterson guy. When we moved to Seguin, reading The Circle Maker was the first thing our church did together after we started going. Turns out our pastor knows the guy personally. The book is really good and helps you understand the character of God in a way we don’t usually focus on or see. I highly recommend it, especially if you are going to do the 40 day prayer challenge associated with the Draw the Circle book that follows. So, before starting all this I knew who this guy was. I liked his stuff a lot. And, I knew this would be a really good and helpful thing to go through even if I didn’t expect much out of it. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do much of anything at that point. I do not honestly know why I then did what I did other than God’s Spirit doing something for me in my head. I decided that it couldn’t hurt to at least start reading the book. The worst that could happen was that I’d get a decent read out of it and I could always do the challenge later. I literally said “What the f—.” Yup, dropped the f bomb and everything. When you don’t care about anything, you really don’t care! Then I read day one.
It was right around that day that I got an appointment with my primary doctor here locally. All the psychiatrists around were booked up for 6 weeks or more and I was desperate. In the past, I’ve had bouts of depression come over me while on the medication but they all went away as depressions normally should. They were always a little rough and deep, but they were also the classic kind of depression where you are just really bummed and in a bad mood. As I mentioned above, this one had only happened one other time. I had hoped that it would go away like the other kinds did and all I had to do was wait it out. I knew that after a couple of weeks of missing work that that wasn’t going to happen. If I recall correctly, I read day one and it blew me away. All you want to do is read the whole book right then and there but that sort of messes up the whole 40 day thing. But, it excited me! That means I cared about something for the first time in a few weeks. I took note of that. The depression actually started to lift that day. Only a little at first. In regards to depression, I’m no dummy. I knew this could be a false mood. Something was wrong and I still needed to get to the doc. My appointment was the next day, a Friday. I was actually starting to feel noticeably better as day two started. Once again, the day’s reading was pretty incredible. I go to the doc and he’s all nonchalant, see this all the time, we’ll just change you up on the meds and you’ll be fine, yada yada. Normally non psychiatrists are flat out unwilling to change up psych drugs on a person. It’s just not done. My doc rocks and God used him. I got my prescription changed and started a new med that night. It’s made a huge difference and I’ll elaborate on it some other time. Suffice it to say, by day three I was starting to feel normal again.
All that is the immediate background to what came next. Lets just say that the start of this was highly providential if not miraculous. I don’t remember much in the way of specifics of the first several days of the challenge. I know we joined another lady in our church doing it so we had three people. It’s called a prayer circle or circling your prayers so we had a three person circle. Everybody at church that did it was doing it in small groups like that. I remember at the beginning Mark saying don’t worry if you don’t know what to pray for, just start. The only thing I knew to be on ‘the list’ at that point was future direction so that was number one on the list. Mark said it would be a good idea to journal your prayer times so you would remember and be able to look back, so I started to journal near the beginning. Turns out that answered one of Mary’s prayers for me to do that! As the week went on, the readings and the prayer times became more and more awesome. Another thing I remember was something about getting “God ideas”. And then I came to day nine (I keep dragging the suspense out don’t I?).
Day nine happened on September 11th, 2014. The anniversary of the terrible attacks on our country. My generation’s Pearl Harbor. On this day I got my God idea and the my future direction to sail toward. We are going to build a Victorian country style mansion where our house currently sits and turn it into a bed and breakfast called The Shepherds Inn. There’s a pun in there in case you didn’t catch it. As serious as this is, God has an awesome sense of humor. He gave me the name so blame Him! Anywho, this is not going to be just a bed and breakfast. It’s going to be a miracle factory. The guests won’t have to pay because they are here to be ministered to. This place is for hurting people to come and get away for a while. Get out of the fight and get some R&R before they go back so they can be rejuvenated. It’s going to be a place where dreams are given, prayers are answered, and miracles happen! Don’t doubt my words on this. It’s a God thing and it’s already a done deal. Our aim is to provide a luxury weekend (or more) get away for:
- Pastors and staff
- Wounded Warriors (with any facilities they need no matter how wounded) and their families
- Special needs children and their families, again with special facilities
- And the Homeless
That’s the short first list and probably the core we’ll start with but it’s not exclusive. The place is for hurt and hurting people that need a break. God will direct as we need and will bring who needs it.
This post is already pretty long and that’s the first big thing. Mary got something too and shockingly enough it involves sheep! More on that later. God is lining this up and it’s going to be quite a ride. We’ve already been offered $10,000 in free legal help to get started setting this thing up properly as it’s not going to be exactly the traditional non profit (there’s way more to it all). We’ve been given free professional photography service already as well and nothing’s been started yet! God is bringing people to us or to mind to ask and it’s too much to be coincidental. I’m strapping in for this one folks. Stay tuned because you’re about to see some God awesomeness!
Good Morning from The Double Portion Ranch! Here’s what mornings look like here. I hope they brighten yours :)
Just to kick all the lazy ‘trons out of the Facebook connection…
After putting an add on Craigslist a week ago, I sold the last of my sheep this morning. In the year and 3/4 we’ve had the place, the herd more than tripled and I think we had 35 of them at the largest. We got 2 now. Just the “pets”. The property currently can support between 5-8 sheep. Right now we got no grass so we’re giving the ranch a rest. We are going out to look at what we’re going to buy next though. I believe we’ll specialize going forward. Much more to come!
Today is the anniversary of when my nation was attacked in my lifetime. I grew up learning about the cry to “Remember the Alamo.” While important, it was history nobody living was there to see. I grew up hearing “Remember Pearl Harbor.” This was history that people I knew lived through. It remained vivid in their memories and we respectfully remembered that day every year. Now I “Remember 9/11.” I watched it happen. I cried. I supported retribution for that act.
I’ll always remember because I can never forget it. Maybe someday peace will come and allow us to be at peace on this remembrance day. That day has not yet come.
I always have hundreds of titles for posts going through my head before I write one. Usually they’re for other posts. I’m pretty sure I’m ADD so all that stuff is jumbled up in there together and I have to herd it some and let it settle out to get it where it needs to be. Sometimes I do that with great success and other times not so much. I’ll have to let you judge that. Things here at the ranch have been wonky for months now. Nothing changed with the ranch really but life changed a lot for the wife and I. Potential opportunities took most of my time and energy. I had a shot at something, or at least it looked like I did, that could have paid off nicely. Had it done so, it would have taken me away from the ranch a good deal of the time. All that’s done now really, much to my relief.
It was a crazy time and it’s still not fully over with. While my distraction was going on, the place where my wife worked lost their contract. She’s now been out of a job for a couple of months because the new company didn’t pick up any of the old workers except for a couple. From what we have heard, it turned into a horrible place to work so it seems like maybe it was time to move on anyway. So, for you praying types, Mary needs a new job fairly soon. We appreciate the prayers! Now back to the fun stuff.
We need a barn, BAD! I’ve been to a live stock auction near here and seen how the animals are treated. They aren’t abused but neither are they loved. I guess I’m a big ol’ softy or sucker or something, but I love my critters. I know some are destined for the dinner plate but until then they’re going to get the best life I can provide them. Without a barn, that means nursing sick ones back to health happens in the house! Were my wife and daughter not on the same page with me, this would be a very bad thing indeed. Instead, it’s merely inconvenient and rather stinky.
I can’t recall now how many lambs we’ve had inside. I know we’ve got 2 we can’t ever sell due to a bit of over-bonding and there have been a hand full of others that integrated back into the herd pretty nicely. Last week we found that we had a couple of lambs with some resistant worms. One of these was Baby. Oh, and lets get one thing clear here. I don’t name hardly any of the sheep. Number 72 is fine for me. This comes mostly from my kid. How she keeps them all straight is beyond me! Anywho, back to the story. So Baby and I think Tank were having issues but Baby was not looking well at all. Now a lamb is worth about $1.70 a pound right now. Most go to auction at around 25 pounds probably so you’re looking at less than $50 for one of these animals. I guess this is where the sucker part comes in. One trip to the vet and you’ve doubled the price of the animal but you’ll never get that for it. Most people doing this for a living probably just put problems like this down.
Baby got diagnosed with resistant worms and all they did was give her a dose of 2 worming meds. This cleared her right up within 24 hours. About 5 days later though, we were out doing something with the herd and Daughter noticed Baby was missing. It was nearly sunset. We all went looking and checked the back half of the ranch. I’ve had sheep get their heads stuck in the fence there so this is the first place I look. She wasn’t there. Wife and Daughter searched one more thicket of trees near the house with no luck. By now it was dark. Honestly, I figured she was dead and laying out there somewhere so I called off the search and planned to look in the morning with light. Rachel decided not to give up though and kept looking. She found Baby in the big ravine on the front half of the property. Ruckus then ensued!
Baby couldn’t walk. I was called and helped get everyone up out of the ravine. This is where the barn doesn’t come in! We took Baby into the house (because, no BARN!). She was alert and everything seemed normal except she couldn’t stand up, even with help. At this point I think she was weakened by the whole worming thing but it just hadn’t hit until this day. If an animal is alert, eating, drinking, and peeing and pooping, then they are exhibiting good signs. It’s just unfortunate when this takes place on carpet. We gave Baby a day and she didn’t get worse or better. Now it was time to take the $90 lamb back to the vet. Yes, she was turning into a pure bread, papered, show lamb!
Baby naturally didn’t have anything easy to diagnose. This is probably a good thing since most things that would keep a sheep from standing are very NOT good. So she got the animal equivalent of chicken soup. A vitamin shot, a steroid shot, and an antibiotic shot. Just for the record, liquid vitamin B reeks. Baby may be the only sheep we’ve had that’s gotten to ride in both the car and the red truck of happiness (it brings food and treats, therefore…). She did well riding and really wasn’t a bad house guest except for the bodily function stuff. She’d hear the herd outside and call to them, wanting to join up periodically, but other than that she was pretty passive. This is what it looked like from our perspective, see the video below:
You can see in the video that she looks kind of skinny and her front knees are a little swollen. We didn’t know if she was going to recover at that point. We did know that a sheep that couldn’t walk was one we really couldn’t keep. It wouldn’t have been much of a life for the sheep in that case either. That meant there was this possible outcome of having to put her down if she didn’t get better running around in the back of all our heads. Fortunately, she improved! Not fast, but visibly and steady. First she’d get up on her back legs and front knees for a few seconds. Then we could get her to completely stand up for a few seconds. She was really wobbly and would fall down again after a minute. The she started doing this scootch/crawl thing across the floor to get where she wanted to go. Cute and effective! By the next day we could get her to stand with no help and walk with some help for a little bit. Time for sheep physical therapy. It looked like the shotgun meds were working. One more day and she was able to get up on her own and stand for a while and even walk a bit without help. Still very wobbly and unsteady, she’d do more of a controlled fall to lay back down. She got one more round of shots and by the next day she was starting to get into trouble in the house. This was a very good sign indeed. That evening she was doing so well that we debated leaving her in the yard. Her mom came in and it seemed all was well with the world. Plenty of grass to munch and some company. At this point I saw her scamper over some big rocks we have landscaped around one of our trees and I knew she was pretty much well. I figured we’d cut them loose in the morning but being the protective sucker I am, not tonight. Then mom got a case of the “I want the herd” blues and started circling the house bleating like the end of the world had come. What a whiner! I went out and watched Baby having no problem keeping up with mom. After a quick all family conference, the decision was made to cut them loose then and pray for the best. Off they went in the company of our LGDs to rejoin the rest. I said a quick prayer and went back inside.
Here’s Baby as of this evening:
She still needs to fatten up more but the improvement is amazing. I don’t think I mentioned that we gave her a bath. She was filthy. 24 hours after rejoining the herd, she’s on her way back to that again! Some of my white sheep really hate being white I guess…