I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~ Thoreau

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Updates & Musings

Things have been insane around here trying to finish up the school year with Sarah, who by the way made straight A’s, and just generally trying to manage chickens and bees and whatnot. Here is a quick update:

The chickens are GIANORMOUS they have more than quadrupled their size since we got them several months ago. They actually look like chickens now, they have lost almost all of their baby feathers and are almost entirely a gorgeous glossy black, when they stand in the sunlight there feather glint beautiful shades of green, blue and purple. Their little spindly legs have thickened and turned completely black, however their combs and waddles have yet to grow into much of anything and are still a grayish brown, they are supposed to turn red eventually.

They have such personality and charm and it is hysterical to watch them torment Fred in the evenings, refusing to go to roost and making him chase them all about the coop. Nights when it is my turn to put them to bed they are usually already nicely settled in their house and I merely have to close the door. I really believe they just get a kick out of Fred chasing them madly around the coop and banging his head on the ramp. He grumbles and complains that they are “dumb stinky chickens” but he is attached to them too. He takes his guitar out in the evening and serenades them as they scratch around in the yard. I am not sure if they enjoy this or not, he thinks they do. (It seems to me they tend to hurry into the house a little earlier on these evenings.)
As for the bees, well, they are alive! My transplanted queen was a success. Fred saw her earlier in the week. She is hard to miss because she is marked with a bright blue gob of paint. Fred did a little research and said the queen raisers specifically color code the queens according to the year in which they are hatched. Theoretically, a queen from good stock can live for around five years but, according to whichever book you read, a queen’s ability to lay is really tapped out after around two or three years and most books advise requeening prior to the queens natural death to prevent swarming and to control the genetic makeup of your hives. All I know at this point is I am glad I did not kill her and or tank the hive.

We had a short break in the weather yesterday and Fred went out to check the hives the bees had begun to “pull comb” in our top super of our largest hive so he went ahead and added the queen excluder, this is a small screen that allows the workers up into the super box to make honey but does not allow the queen to follow them and lay eggs. If the bees produce enough honey this super should be our first honey harvest in a few weeks. We are very excited. We have been feeding our smallest hive, our split, for a couple of weeks now and although they are maintaining they are not growing significantly. We will continue to feed them and may need to do so through the winter to keep them alive.

That is an update on everything you may have been following to date. We are struggling with this weather and the rain as are many people around the country. Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of the flooding out west. We know intimately what it is like to watch the water rise and wonder if this will be the storm that washes away everything we own. We count ourselves as very blessed because even now as I type this and watch the rain fall outside our window God has given us enough significant breaks in the rain over the last several days to keep the creek and the river within their banks.

These things that are outside of our control in life are often the things that leave us so very hurt and angry. Whether it is the ravishing of nature, illness, the oil leak in the gulf, loss or personal pain, things we cannot control sometimes leave us wondering where God is and why is he not answering our desperate pleas for help. There are so many things in life that disappoint and that just do not turn out the way we plan but sometimes that in and of itself is the problem, we so often focus on what WE plan instead of what God wants or has planned.

Regardless, sometimes bad things just happen, we live in an imperfect world with no promise of tomorrow Job tells us, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there, The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Basically, we came into this world with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing. It is a sobering thought when you contemplate that most of us spend our entire lives trying to amass stuff and to gather acolytes that have very little intrinsic value. My prayer for my personal life is that God will allow me to stand in the midst of my suffering and continue to praise his name.

This is not easy. When crappy things happen it is easy to get mad at God. The great thing about God is he is big enough to take our anger and like the father he is, still love and care for us when our anger is spent. Ephesians tells us “Anger and sin not.” This is good advice and a worthy point for people who think Christians should never get mad. Getting mad is not a sin. Sometimes getting mad is a necessary response to propel us into action. Jesus got mad and since he lives for thirty plus years I am willing to guess that he probably got mad more than just what is recorded in the Bible. Sometimes getting mad is just a natural human response to things that are outside of our control.

When I lost my job I was mad. I was hurt I was angry and not for the first time in my life I felt like I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing or what God’s plan for my life was. I had worked so hard to get that job I had jumped through all the hoops, passed all the tests, surely it was God’s will for me to be there. How could I have ever landed there and successfully passed the rigorous testing processes if it was not God’s will? So why did I have to give it up? Why the stumbling block? I have wrestled with this since September and I really still do not have any clear answers. What I do know is that through all of my anger and depression, for all of my ranting and tears God is faithful.

It is not always for us to know the way or the why of the Lord, we are but a small part of his creation. Yes he loves us but we are not in charge he is. The sooner we surrender ourselves to this the easier our burden will be. I have spent a great deal of time reading the book of Job lately. I have revisited my own anger and disappointment as I try to help a friend deal with theirs. We often focus on the first part of the book of Job the epic struggle between God and satan, Job’s loss and the shunning by family and friend. We applaud Job for his steadfastness in his faith but what we gloss over is: Job whines a lot. Job gets depressed, Job questions God and in fact I would go so far as to say Job gets angry.

We endow Job with saintly virtue because he continued to praise God through his suffering but so often we down play the part where Job is still human and deals with human emotions and turmoil through his loss and suffering and questions God’s fairness and loyalty. Ultimately, God’s response to Job is: if you think I am wrong and what I do is unjust then you do it better. Ouch. That puts it in perspective for me. We are not God. On this earth it will always be impossible to completely know the mind of God. I do not know why children suffer. I do not know why one man starves while another owns millions. I do not understand why a godly man is struck down with cancer while a child molester lives into his seventies. I do not know. I am not God. What I do know is that I will choose to praise God.

I can testify that through the trials in my own life God is faithful and a world with God in my life and in charge of my life is much preferable to a world without. We have no promise of tomorrow and we cannot guard all of these material things we collect against everything that may come. I am making a conscious choice in my life to place more value on the things that really matter. I am so grateful for my family. I am so grateful for my friends. I am so grateful for my church. I want to give back. I want to be a better friend, a better wife, a better parent, a better teacher. I want to help those around me learn from the mistakes I have made and start sooner to value those things of real worth. I make mistakes every day I am not perfect. I am learning and this is a journey but I would like to leave you with a passage of scripture that Jeff read at Fred and my wedding:

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, Love is kind and is not jealous: love does not brag and it is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account wrongs suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS…”
I Corinthians 13: 1-8

I know I said I would leave it there but let me add; to me this really sums up what a Christian life should be. If we follow these basic principles of love we will be kinder to ourselves, each other, our families and the world in which we live. Love makes anger obsolete, I am not saying I will never get angry again (in fact I get angry a lot, my temper is probably my least attractive feature) what I am saying is that if we act out a spirit of love our angry will not cause us to stumble or to harm.

Thank you for reading,
Much love,


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