Who Do You Say That I Am?

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He’s different—always has been. The type of guy who goes against the grain most of the time but can fall victim to peer pressure. My son, Christian, has had to work harder than the pack at everything from football to Algebra. For what he’s lacked in book smarts, he’s made up for in courage and earthy ingenuity. He’d survive in the wilderness, and if need be, step up to lead others out; but instead of Moses, he reminds me of David in the Bible, and a bit of wild-spirited Tristan in the movie Legends of the Fall. He’d want to kill the bear, but out of respect for such a beautiful beast would be reluctant to pull the trigger. Being his momma, I’ve prayed many late nights on the porch of our farmhouse against the howling coyotes, knowing Christian’s trekking through the woods in search of wild boar.

Upon our return from the trip of a lifetime—Israel—he sat across from me with sad eyes.

“I’m checked out.” He shrugged. “I feel so lost in my classes. I’m not that guy.”

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I thought about Christian often on our trip. At Caesarea Philippi, often referred to as the Gates of Hell, I’d ventured away from the group and found a stone stairway that led to an ancient tiled floor. From my elevated position, I could see out over the ruins of the Temple of Pan and the rivers below. I contemplated what went on in that dark place.

At the Temple of Pan, worshippers threw their infants into the water hole that emerged from the mouth of the cave; if the baby sank the pagan god Pan accepted their sacrifice, but if blood flowed down into the rivers below—due to the infant being bashed on the rocks—Pan rejected their sacrifice. Either way, their infants died.

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I couldn’t help but think about my own children standing in that place. Am I any different? Do I toss them into the caves of culture whether it’s good for them or not, requiring them to paddle the choppy waters of finding themselves, simply because that’s the “way” to success? The way everyone else is doing it? When we sent Christian to college, I told him, “Just give it a year. Who knows you may end up liking it.” (In other words, sink or swim.) While he reiterated his doubt.

But Christian’s always known who he is. And he’s left me a trail of river rocks to find him. All the times we went walking around the neighborhood and I glanced behind to find my toddler way back, squatting. He’d stopped to look at the pretty colors of a bug or try to snatch a lizard.

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The many times he dug into my potted plants looking for the root system.

Or the time I picked him up at preschool during petting farm day and found him sitting in a chair cuddling a hen.

“He’s been holding the animals all day. He could care less about the bounce house,” his teacher said. “Christian’s going to be a farmer. He’s so good with animals.”

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I took Christian boot shopping when he was a chunky pre-teen. I picked out the cool Under Armor hiking boots for him, while his eyes lit up over the Red Head camouflage ones. When he slid his foot into them his chin raised a notch as if he’d been crowned by God to rule a nation, but to me they looked like bushes sprouting on his feet. I scrunched my nose and voiced they were a bit red-necky in my opinion.

“This is who I am Momma.” He pointed to his feet. “I’m not a hip guy. God made me to hunt and fish. You’re just going to have to accept that about me.”

Now it’s hard to picture Christian without his camouflage. My now 19-year-old stared at his hands, and I can tell by his deep voice he doesn’t want to disappoint me when he says, “I’m not going to get a degree Momma.”

I should have seen it coming. I’m a slow learner.

It is who he is.

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The rivers and fountains at Caesarea Philippi.

In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus brought the disciples to that dark place, a place of pagan worship, infant sacrifice, and temple prostitution. It was there he asked Peter “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter responded. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

(Christ responded) “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 6: 15-19 (English Standard Version)

It was there right by the Gate of Hell; Jesus announced His intentions. He would do a new thing. The old ways of laboring for salvation would fail so He could become the perfect sacrifice.

Late Saturday night, Christian announced he would do a new thing. He wouldn’t take the wide, worn path to his future. He tried college and failed.

He lifted his head and met my eyes. “Momma, I want to be a farmer. I want to work the land. I like the outdoors.”

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“You can’t go work on the farm without getting an education in farming,” I said. “You need to earn your way and bring something of value to the farm.”

“I’m going to apply for apprenticeship at an organic, sustainable farm. There are farms all over the country that teach it. I’ll get educated on an actual farm not in a classroom.”

I nodded.

Besides, who am I to fight it.

It is who he is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Boat

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Out of the Boat

The day I posted my painting to social media and titled it “Out of the Boat.” I neglected to share what inspired me to paint it. Last year, I felt a yearning to move to the farm, but I didn’t know if this desire was from God or myself, so we began praying last fall for confirmation. Around January, I noticed within sermons, devotions, emails etc. the story of Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water kept popping up. I dreamt this painting. I saw myself looking across the deep at the light of Jesus. As I painted, I stepped back and saw the monsters in the water. Through all of this, I knew God was telling me, He wanted me out of my comfort zone, but my farmhouse is the epitome of comfort.

Jay and I scheduled a tour of the best and closest Christian school, a thirty- minute drive from the farm. We told each other if we felt comfortable with the school, it was meant to be. We would move. We stood in the stained carpet hallway with the moldy vents when the bell rang. Hoards of dark-skinned giants (football players) flooded the hall along with all the light-skinned students who looked a bit rumpled and wearing their stiff pants. It was a far cry from the campus at our private school in Orlando, the picture of perfection. Waves

We toured the football field. Hoping to find our comfort zone. Christian is our football player and this school has one of the best football teams. Our guide rambled on about the school’s championship wins and the college coaches that attend their games. The field looked more junior high stacked next to ours. Under the bleachers weeds grew up between the weight equipment. Waves

We returned to the car. “Well, that was disappointing,” Jay said. I felt the same. I didn’t have my peace that we were supposed to move.

We drove back to the farm and I stared out the window down those country roads. Confederate flags flapped in the wind, and we passed several pick up trucks with the good ole Dixie hanging off the back or in the window. What am I doing? Moving my bi-racial family to a town like this? A town filled with good ole boys. Waves

            Black versus white…in all honesty, I’m uncomfortable in the cultural extremes. I’ve found my comfort spot in the warm, buttery brown, where cultures blend and bleed into each other easily.

I pray and pray for what’s best for my children and Peter keeps stepping out of the boat onto the rough seas over and over again. What are you telling me Lord? My father-in- law (Ompa) recently said, “At least Peter had the courage to get out of the boat.” That stuck. It takes courage to step out into the uncomfortable… the imperfect…the inconvenient.

I see Orlando through a different lens now.I drive around passing luxury vehicles and perfectly manicured shopping centers.The boy’s school has a sparkling new gymnasium complete with large screen tv’s. Tourist flood here to savor perfection, a place to get away from their own bitter waters for a bit. Orlando is beautiful and takes constant polishing to keep it that way. It is not real, not true to life…It is a facade. I have to ask myself, is God’s plan for His followers to be so comfortable when it is in the moments we are uncomfortable we feel more alive and closer to Him? We reflect back on those times as spiritual growth, a time when God showed up or we felt Him lean in close.

I’ve had to examine my heart, and go to the Word for my answer to prayer, rather than find it through my biased viewpoint and in my feelings. The Bible is called the living, breathing Word of God. It has all the answers. It speaks to us as individuals and in whatever situation we are in. It convicts, answers, and helps us to get know God on a more personal level. Although, there are other ways God speaks to us, we need to trust the Word to have the last Word in our lives. Peter is stepping on the waves. I am stepping on the waves. My boys will step on the waves.

Do you wonder how to find the answers in the Word of God? Stayed Tune to part 2. Next, how to Abide and Hear from the Lord through the Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Out of the Boat!

Recently, I was asked by our MOPS leader what is your life phrase for the New Year. I didn’t have to think about mine. For a while now, God has placed the same Bible story in front of me. Don’t you love it when the same passage comes up over and over? Maybe God doesn’t need to do that to you, but my Creator knows about my hard head and ADD.

The story is of Peter seeing Jesus walking on the water and asking to join Him. When Jesus grants permission, for a moment Peter feels what it’s like to walk on water. My phrase for the year of 2017 is “Get out of the boat.” God’s calling me to step out of my comfort zone.

 

Jay and I decided this summer we will move to the farm. It will definitely be a lifestyle change. You see, the farm has been a reprieve for us as a family, a get-away place to enjoy with Jay’s brother Shaun and his family, but soon it will become a new lifestyle.

This decision has come about after much prayer, contemplation, and confirmation. Last week, while cleaning the kitchen, I asked God to give me another sign that this is what He truly wanted. Earlier that morning, I signed up on a ministry’s website called Embrace Grace, and an hour later they sent me an email with a bloom word. My bloom word was “Adventure.” The email stated they had prayed over me and felt God had a word of encouragement for me today.  The attached verse was Judges 18:6 ESV, “And the priest said to them, ‘Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.”

Under the word Adventure it went on to say…

“New adventures with the Lord are often exciting and filled with a lot of unknown.

Your sense of calling is like an unfolding, epic adventure! Be encouraged that as an uncharted path is before you, God is with you. When we seek His wise counsel and draw close to Him, it is His voice that leads us. A journey that is directed by Him comes with His protection, oversight, and blessings. Pack your bags with only the items that He wants you to take. Leave your worries and past behind and step into your new adventure with courage knowing your heavenly Father is right beside you! Let the new adventure begin!” (Embrace Grace Bloom Word)

 

To top it off, it came with a print button, so you could print off your sign and hang it on the wall. God has a sense of humor. He sent me a literal sign an hour after I prayed for it. Although there are still lingering doubts, we’ve decided to jump off the gangplank and see what happens.

Life on the farm is in extreme opposition from the life in Orlando. For one, I will have to cook dinner every night. Although, I do it a few nights a week, cooking is not one of my creative talents. Can I get an “Amen” for Uber Eats?  There is no Uber Eats at the farm.…sigh. The nearest decent grocery store is a thirty-minute drive down dirt roads, across a one lane bridge, and into another city. We are in the sticks people!

For another inconvenience, my driving son will be in college, and I will have to drive my boys until November when my second born is able to get his license. In Orlando, if all the drivers are unavailable to pick up from Lacrosse practice or a theme park, we Uber our boys home. It’s as easy as entering an address into your cell phone. There’s no Uber at the farm…ugh!

In O Town, we have entertainment and fine dining around every corner. I am convinced, we are some of the most entertained and well-fed people in the USA. At the farm, there are ATV’s, animals, slow internet, and satellite television which goes out during a storm. In fact, if you goggle the area and ask for happening local events, you get a barbecue restaurant by the tracks and that’s a fifteen-minute drive…snore.

There is one sacrifice I am cringing about…my freedom. Here, I have sitters for Bella whom I trust, so I can go to the Barnes and Nobles down the street and put in a full writing day. The cafe is my office away from home. There are no babysitters or bookstores near the farm…boo hoo!

 

Although, my life will not have the comforts and luxuries of this one, I feel this life will help us grow. It is good to step out of your comfort zone on occasion. In the following weeks, I will write about the pros and cons of this change, my fears, and the steps we are taking with the boys for a smooth transition. Eventually, The Writer’s Roost will become the story of a spoiled Orlando Momma who moves deep into the sticks and what that life looks like. You will follow me as I start over, learning my way in a new town and meeting new people, and as always when I’m at the farm, God will provide the inspiration. This Momma will bravely step off her perfectly manicured lawn, and onto the sea of manure. So slip on your muck boots and come along! Watch out for that runaway bull!

If you’ve ever felt the need for a change, or if you’ve experienced a lifestyle switch-a-roo such as this, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it.