Monday, December 19, 2011

Milking Cows For Jesus

This is a story that must be told. This is a story about milking cows for Jesus and His glory. Let’s start at the beginning.

There was a day quite some time ago (oh, let’s say a year and a half at least) when our family’s urban farm was really taking off. Our garden had been expanded and was in full swing. We had started raising chickens for eggs and we were busy. It was a good busy though. We were learning constantly and taking in all of God’s richest blessings. You see, not everyone can say this, although I do think there’s something ingrained in all of us as humans, but we love the outdoors. We love nature and are amazed at how and why God created certain things the way He did. We love learning about how things grow, reproduce, micro evolution, pollinate, etc. We love how perfect God created our world to be and how through that creation we can provide food for ourselves. Good, wholesome food that hasn’t been doused with chemicals, radiation, preservatives and ingredients that have been known for cause various health problems in people. It’s something that has always been my passion and it’s sort of grown on my husband, slowly.

I was at a place awhile back when I felt secluded, alone. I wanted to share my passions with others, trying to tread that fine line of not pushing my passions on others, but wanted to be there for those who shared in it. The more I learned, the more I wanted to genuinely share with others. I prayed hard that the Lord would bring a family into our lives that we could share this experience with. I got specific. I wanted them to love growing things, appreciating raw dairy, raw foods, pastured meats. I wanted them to love the Lord. I so desperately wanted them to homeschool like we did so I could share that too. Sometimes I’m busting at the seams to share all the blessings of home education, but reserve myself as to not “push it upon others” (I may not be doing such a great job on that one, but let me tell you, there’s absolutely zero guilt. Tee-hee. It’s that much of a blessing! Praise God for that.) Anyway, after I prayed, I thought that it was a possibility that might come true, but who would we possibly meet in such a large city that had the same passions we had. Seriously? Sometimes people look at us funny when we share weekend plans. We share that we were gardening and processing chickens. They laugh and say, “You know you can just go pick one up from the grocery store all ready to go don’t you?” We smile politely and sometimes feel lead to share what we know. Other times, we just take private pride in what we provide for ourselves on such a small piece of property in this city.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. Two nights after praying to the Lord for this specific family that we needed, He delivered. Sitting across from us in our Bible study that evening was a couple who was new to the area who had lost everything they had on their working farm in Georgia. They moved down here to Florida with a business opportunity for some work along the beach. They lived along the beach with their three adorable children, two dogs and a cat. As we’re all sitting in a circle at study, the icebreaker that evening couldn’t have been more perfect. Our pastor asked us to go around the circle and name their favorite animal and why. Our friend Jacque said that they had a cow and how much she loved fresh milk. My jaw dropped silently as she shared this. (I have secretly always wanted a Jersey dairy cow myself.) She shared that their cow couldn’t stay with them at their house on the beach, but was being kept at a small farm about 30 minutes away. My brain was churning and I jumped in asking what the farmer’s name was. When she told me his name, I think my jaw dropped even lower because it was the same farm that we buy our raw milk from. Come to find out, we had been buying their cow’s milk for the past week!

The study had finished and we slowly crept towards them introducing ourselves. It was an immediate click as we talked about agriculture. I invited her to our mom’s Bible study during the week and she came that following week. We chatted as our children played on the playground together afterwards. They had two girls and a boy as did we. When I had met all of her children, I also had a hunch…yep, they homeschooled too! In my mind, I was saying, “Of coarse they do. Thank you Father. Of coarse they do!” We invited them over for lunch a few times and we were also invited over to their house for a few meals. We talked about where we had all come from and what our dreams were for the future. They shared with us the ways of Joel Salatin and his methodology of husbandry farming. They knew so much about livestock, we knew more about gardening. We had both recently worked with chickens. Oh the conversations. I didn’t have to hold in anymore.

Later that next year, I invited Jacque to the homeschool conference with me. It was a blast and we learned so much. As we were driving to the conference, I finally told her the story of my specific prayer to the Lord and how He had brought their family to us. She was touched and it was so special sharing that.

Their family got the opportunity to move farther south later that summer. I was so happy for them to finally have land to work. It was 3 acres, not as much as they really wanted, but it was away from concrete and the city. We helped them move that summer. We were sad as we drove home knowing that there wouldn’t be anymore quick visits over to each others’ houses for Sunday lunch. However, the following months we got together, processing chickens and celebrating birthdays, chatting about what we all wanted to do and where we were going to go.


This past weekend, we went over to do some chicken processing. (Side note: our birds finally turned out the right size…hooray!) As we caught up, they shared with us an amazing story. They shared with us how God was going to give them a dairy farm. Their dream that they’ve been dreaming about for years and God was delivering! The specifics were incredible. As they shared the story my jaw dropped (because it never does that). There was a family they had recently met that wanted to leave their dairy business due to illness. You see, Lori and Shawn have 7 amazing children (4 girls and 3 boys) and they live on 25 acres working a full time dairy farm. Lori contracted Lyme disease through an infection that had been undiagnosed and passed down genetically through her family. She is weakening each day as her muscles are sore and each day is different, resulting if she can get out of bed or not. Her husband and children have been trying to help run the dairy, but it has become too much work.

After Jacque shared the story with us and we had finished processing our chickens, she asked if we wanted to go meet them and see their farm. We said yes and headed 15 minutes down the road to their “middle-of-no-where-farm”. It was beautiful. A child’s paradise of unending grass to run in, ponies and horses to ride, a large trampoline to jump on, a pond, 26 cows, newborn calves, things growing, shade trees to climb and always something interesting to do. We let the kids out of the truck when we pulled up and they just ran. The neatest part was we didn’t have to keep tabs on them. Even little Norah. There was a grand total of 14 children who were playing like they had known each other their whole lives. Jacque and Jim showed us the dairy and I was blown away at all the different products that were made. We saw newborn twin calves that had been born days before. We watched the Jerseys out on pasture soaking in sun, munching on sweet, tender grass the way cows were meant to live.

Then, I met Lori. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget the deepness of her eyes and how the presence of the Holy Spirit swept over me like a flood. God was present on this farm. He was helping this family day in and day out work this land for Him. I spent a few minutes talking “small talk” with Lori and explaining that we would be praying for her and her family. I rubbed her arm and then came the tears. I couldn’t stop them. They took over and I apologized. I said thank you for letting us see the dairy and that it was nice to meet them. Rob, Jacque and I walked out slowly and Lori followed us and asked so sincerely if she would ever see me again. I said I didn’t know. Her eyes were so serene. Her curly hair was slowly graying and words can’t describe her maturity and grace as she spoke. Her calmness overwhelmed me. She knew that God was in control. I got a grip on myself and she asked if I could come in and chat in the dairy office. We talked for what seemed like hours. I didn’t keep track of the time though. We talked about our love for land and agriculture. We talked about our love for the Lord and how He is such a big and great God. He will do anything for His glory. Even this. She then asked one of her daughters to round up her sisters to come and sing for me. I sat in awe as the 4 girls (no older than 17) sang 3-part-harmony songs. I asked if my husband could come hear and as he came an listened, I coaxed him to sing along. They started singing Amazing Grace and you just felt the Holy Spirit’s presence in that room. It overwhelmed me. The Lord was doing something amazing with these two families as they were figuring out what to do with this business of milking cows.

Lori shared with me that before they met Jim and Jacque, they had a dream of moving out to Colorado to take it easy and lessen their responsibilities and work load. The kids so badly wanted to go. She shared Psalm 121 with me…”I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” It’s also been called the Pilgrim Psalm, about traveling to another land and being protected by the Lord Himself. She shared how much they wanted to be near the mountains and let God do what he was going to do with her health. I’m pretty sure she’s in a stage 3 Lyme disease and some of her children have been showing signs of the disease as well. My heart aches for them.

Her girls came in and sat on her bed one day asking if the Colorado dream was going to become a reality. She said she didn’t know, but if God wanted them to stay on this farm and milk cows for Jesus, then they were going to stay on this farm and milk cows for Jesus. She told the girls to go and pray, seeking God as they look to Him for guidance. They came back and told her that they would be willing to stay and milk cows for Jesus. As their family surrendered everything they had to the Lord, He began to work. That’s when Lori and Shawn met Jim and Jacque. That’s when Lori and Shawn’s dream of Colorado came true. That’s when Jim and Jacque’s dream of running a raw dairy came true.

Jim and Jacque have a tremendous amount of pressure on them as they oversee this family business. Please be in prayer for them. Add them to a physical piece of paper in your Bible or put them in your family prayer notebook. Please pray that they would be patient as they learn. That the Lord would give them strength for the long days ahead and lack of sleep. Please pray that Jim would be able to quit his 9-5 job and work the dairy full time. Please pray that the kids adjust to moving into the new house and helping run the dairy. Please pray that Jacque would have patience and flexibility as she homeschools and learns how to make the cheeses and other diary products. Please pray that we can be supportive friends in their stressful times that God would give us the words to say, ears to listen and to help and encourage. Please pray that business would be steady and customers would continue to purchase the products. Most of all, please pray that God’s will be done and that all would have peace as it is completed. It is clear that this was meant to happen. God ordained this from the beginning and it is clear that His glory will come from it.

Now it is up to Jim, Jacque and their 3 children to “milk cows for Jesus”.


Crys said...

God is amazing.

Matthew and Valerie said...

Love hearing how God works in the lives of others!

Joy Comes in the Morning said...

I am tearing up. What an amazing testimony. I will keep them and you in our prayes.

The Colbert Crew said...

So ...I lost your blog site and just found it again... I think it has been a year! Oh I love your stories and this one is just amazing.