This afternoon the family and I went on a walk around the ranch. Spring in South Texas is often spectacular, but fall is often not thought about down here. Fall in South Texas is many things. It’s usually late in the year. Here we are probably at the beginning of “peakish” color and it’s almost Thanksgiving! It lasts a long time. You can find deep red oaks well into December. It can be warm or cold. As we say down here, “wait five minutes” and the weather will change. Honestly, I think they say that everywhere. But most of all, it’s also beautiful. A lot of folks don’t believe that. Bah! Everything just turns brown and dies! Well Bah! back atcha! I got pictures to prove that isn’t so. And without further ado, here they are:
Most of these are on the ranch. A few are neighboring properties (pretty much anything with grass).
Down here in Texas it’s FREEZING right now! It doesn’t have to be below 32 degrees to be freezing in Texas. Everything is bigger here so I figure freezing is probably up in the 60′s somewhere. If you want to take the swagger out of a Texan, just get them cold. It reduces us to images like this:
I probably should be wrapped up in a blanket too! In fact, that’s a good idea…
Never hold an ink pen next to your face when you are saying ‘hi’ to a border collie. No matter how “calm” they seem to be acting…
I mentioned in the previous post about Mary’s vision that she got during our 40 day prayer challenge. I guess before I go into that I need to set up a little background. You’ll remember a few posts back we sold almost the whole herd and I said we were going to specialize. That was in early September. We had been thinking along these lines for a while. We now have “experience” raising sheep and we really wanted to get into it deeper. I did some research and found something interesting that I thought would be a great fit here at the ranch. Mary agreed. We found that a breed of sheep called Gulf Coast Native (GCN) had once been THE sheep of the south until drugs were developed that allowed breeds more susceptible to parasites to live successfully in the hot and humid southern areas of the U.S. The produced both medium wool and good tasting meat. The key thing for us was parasite resistance. We had already encountered some drug resistant parasites and any breed that can resist them went right to the top of the list.
They also happened to be very endangered. We don’t think about livestock being endangered but as breeds get replaced with ones considered superior, they fall out of favor in the agricultural community and people stop breeding them. That can be bad news for the continuation of the species! Turns out there’s only about 1400 registered breeding pairs of these sheep left. This puts them at the top of the list as far as endangered livestock go. So while these sheep have lots of good qualities and meet our needs well, it turns out we’d be helping in conservation efforts if we started breeding them. Seemed pretty cool to us so we looked for some. Lo and behold we found A&S Gulf Coast Lamb about an hour east of us. We put a deposit down on 5 of them. These 5 to be specific:
Back to Mary’s vision. During our 40 day’s of prayer, I got the inn and she got the sheep. Her dream is to have the biggest herd of this kind in Texas, specifically 1000 of them. We’re gonna need a bigger ranch! That’s OK since God’s a pretty awesome real estate agent. Part of my dream was seeing the ranch get crazy big, and when I say crazy, I mean it. I’ll go into that at a later date.
One interesting thing occurred during the 40 days. We felt that God said not to do anything more with the visions until the sheep arrived here at the ranch. We brought them home yesterday, November 1st. They’re already fitting right in around here. Thus the title of the post. We now have permission to go forward with our dreams. I can’t say it’s going to get interesting because it was that way from the start. It is going to get moving though! Here’s a couple of pics from yesterday:
A few days back I wrote a little about Mary’s and my 40 day experience. The few weeks that have followed have been very interesting to say the least! Every Sunday has been a continuation of what we experienced during that time. Kind of a sequel after sequel adding to it. There has also been the phenomenon of ‘let down’. I guess the feeling you get when the mountain top experience subsides and “normal” returns, as it inevitably must. I think that’s completely natural but I also think the devil uses that to instill doubt about what you experienced. I don’t think he’s totally on his game though. You can’t instill doubt and then turn around and attack over it. It just confirms that it all happened and that he’s mad about it.
Last Saturday evening, my oldest daughter Rachel got rather violently ill. Pretty much everything that could come out, came out! All day Sunday and Monday she didn’t feel great but could eat and drink and keep it all in. Nothing out of the ordinary for a bug. Then Monday afternoon around 4:30, this young woman who had never had anything like this happen to her before, had a seizure. Grand Mal. The big, scary as crap kind. Mary found her and yelled for me. I happen to work from home on Monday’s so I was there, wrapping up the day’s business. Mary dealt with EMS while I held Rachel and tried to get something in her mouth so she wouldn’t bite her tongue. FYI, newest seizure protocol says DO NOT put anything in the victims mouth. Lesson learned. In this case, no harm, no foul.
Oh, did I mention that my wife, who’s been unemployed now for several months, had her first decent interview scheduled for early the next morning? We got home near midnight and were told basically “who knows what caused it”, lab work showed no reason for it, see your regular doc tomorrow. Weeeeeeellll, tomorrow came alright. At 6 AM EMS rolled again as we found her in another seizure. It was less severe and EMS guys, while totally being willing to transport to hospital, explained the situation to us and helped us decide to just go straight to the doc since by that time they were just opening. Mary caught on to the spiritual warfare side of all this by then but I was still pretty much in a daze. Still, I thought she should go to the interview, so she did.
Doc had some ideas and prescribed some meds for us. He wasn’t worried, which helped me calm down some. Still, no way to know what caused it or why it happened. Just that normally 20 something year olds don’t just start seizing out of the blue like that. On the way to get the medicine, she had number 3. This one was even milder and she basically was just dazed. We counted 2 more that day. It’s been about 48 hours now since the last one but she’s still getting sick to her stomach some. I requested to work from home all week this week to be here to help watch over her. Mary and I have been tag team watching or checking on her. Church folks have come by and been supportive. Mary and I probably slept 12 hours last night between going to bed early and both of us forgetting to set (or turning off) our alarms. Sanity is returning.
The last time I was involved in a big God thing something similar happened that put ME in the hospital. The spiritual realm is something I understand very little about but I have no doubt it exists and that we affect it and vice-versa. I will say this though. Although we do influence the battle, the battle is the Lords. He wins every time, regardless. It’s funny now that I think about it. As Christians, we are always talking about the consequences of sin. And although they are very different things, there are also consequences to obeying God and following Him. I think most often they are very good consequences. But sometimes, sometimes you get the battle. What we’ve experienced is nothing compared to Christians who have been persecuted, suffered or died for the cause of Christ but honestly, I’m honored to be allowed into the fight. As Romans 8:18 says, “I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us.”
Just to ad some icing on the cake, our dishwasher broke right before all this happened. While minor, it still stinks. If you know where we can pick up a new or used one for cheap, let me know OK?
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!