Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Oh man that really gets my goat!”… After my recent experience I think that should be a compliment. Like, “Thanks for really getting my goat!… I had a dumb goat… but now you came along and “got it” and now everything in life is easier!” See doesn’t that make more sense?
I got the wild hair to get a goat. Emphasis on “wild”. Did you know you can rent them? Yes, you can rent a goat to come in and eat the weeds out of your pasture. Sheep do not really like weeds. I would like to think they are too cool for weed. I had the brilliant idea to rent not just any ole stinky goat… but specifically an Alpine dairy goat. My logic was that I am already milking a bunch of sheep what is one goat. I called about the goat weeks ago… they even had the breed I wanted…. however it was already being rented out. They told us they would get back to us if she came back. I sort of forgot about it…. or at best, figured it was not going to happen.
Of course the goat guy called to drop the goat off soon after the Chinese girls got here.
Of course he had to drop off the goat right away.
Of course she needed milked immediately. Like right away. Like she needed milked that morning and this was 3:30 but the previous renter was done with her and didn’t milk her… This should have been my first clue.
I call her Goatsy. She is a rent-a-goat… so no need for an official name. Let’s face facts she is not listening anyway…. and if she is listening she has no plans to obey me.
She is pretty crazy. It is like milking a rodeo bronco mixed with a tap dancing caberet dancer. She is completely nuts. She is so crazy that I now understand why God calls us sheep and not goats and I am forever thankful to Him for that…. He is a good God. I would never want to be thought of as a goat… sheep I can handle.
She is not like milking a sheep. Did I mention she is crazy? However her milk is the best goat milk I have ever experienced. That is why I was looking for an Alpine goat. They have the sweeter milk of the goats. It does not compare to the sweetness of sheep milk, not even close…. but it is much better than average goat milk. I think I will write about that in the future…. a taste test of cow, sheep and goat.
Every day that she is on the lesser side of crazy I cup her little goat face in my hands and tell her she can stay another day. But that goat guy is on my speed dial…
The Chinese exchange students timidly walked through our home. Eight kids was kind of blowing their minds. I started to think this was a bad idea. I could not imagine a whole week of these quiet people tip toeing through our home. My mind started to reel at how exactly I could back out of this. Every interaction between us and them seemed awkward. I told my HusBen that I was getting overwhelmed and I was doubting this whole adventure. A few hours after they unpacked their bags they ventured down into our music room…”Excuse me… I play your guitar please?”
I looked up confused. But truthfully I was just glad they were talking.
The tall one pointed at the wall of guitars.
“ummm… you play?” I wondered if perhaps she had never seen one and just wanted to try it out.
Talls nodded and I handed it to her. She sat down and she blew our minds and expectations away….”Hold…Hold on a second… let me get you a better guitar….,” my HusBen went into his special stash of guitars in humid proof cases….”here this one is a 1956 Martin.”
It turns out the Talls is a classically trained guitarist. It turns out Smalls is an amazing singer… like an angel that one! At the farewell performance Talls was the host of the evening and she worked the crowd making jokes in English and in Chinese. She also did a guitar solo that wowed everyone. Tiny little Smalls sang in Chinese with another guy who was no match for her talented range. Only five of the 40 students performed… and our Chinese girls did most of it!
Needless to say they were a perfect fit. I miss them already. I learned so much. Talls and Smalls visited New York City, Washington DC and Philly while they stayed with us… but when I asked them about their favorite part of America they both answered, “Being here… staying with you and going to the pool.”
Things I am forever grateful for from our time together…
- Talls reading the Jesus StoryBook Bible during church…each page read can never be undone.
- Evenings with all TEN kids playing kickball in the backyard
- Placing my two year old daughter onto the hip of the Chinese chaperone who has always wanted to have more than one child… but isn’t allowed.
- Smalls always trying to teach me how to pronounce her last syllable in her name… which I still can’t do.
- Being proud as any mother when the girls performed at the show.
- The kids hanging out and playing UNO and watching America’s Got Talent.
- Our conversations about how things really are for women in China.
- Teaching them to swim and all that goes with it.
- How He always brings just the right people to our home.
- Instagram and social media and how Talls and Smalls and our family get to stay connected.
- Every single Word that He told me to covertly speak into their lives.
- Teaching them the ancient American art of s’mores and then glow stick hide and seek on our last night.
I stood in the stands at the first show of my daughter and watched the horses swat flies with long braided tails. Some kids slouched in the saddle as the summer heat melted them beneath black helmets. My daughter didn’t flinch. Her smile did not waver. She is built for this. I looked through the long lens of my camera and the only movement I saw was her eyes flicker and look right back at me. Each horse stepped forward for their ribbon and I realized Yen had not received one. My eyebrows twitched as I raced to remember her number… 1056.
third place to the boy with the red belt…
second place to the girl with the shiny black horse with the perfectly braided mane…
“Number 1056…. First place”..
…and we jumped to our feet and cheered. Her grandmother lifted her pink parasol and her grandfather smiled and clapped, “Go Yen!”
Her very first show and she won first place!
I jumped down and ran to the other side to meet our aunt who had made all of this possible. Beth had bought the horse… got the trainer… ordered the outfit, organized this whole day and most importantly swooped in and adopted us all when our family abandoned us. When we were shunned and told to never come back… she invited us in. When Yen had been abandoned by family who was supposed to be hers forever… Beth came in, lifted her up and put her on a horse and showed her how strong Yen really is. She has taught us all about a selfless brave love that changes hearts.
We sucked back our tears as the next show started and 1056 needed to be back out there… to win that show also!
and the next one!
Yen’s eyes were beaming . Three bright blue ribbons flapped on the reins, “Momma can you believe it!”
She added a third, fourth and fifth place ribbon before we took a break.
In the shade of the gooseneck trailer we sat and ate the gourmet lunch our uncle Bill made while the horse munched hay. A little girl walked up and Yen and her struck up conversation in the background. Beth said they would stay till the end and come back with the horse and trailer… I said I would meet them at the pool with dinner and ice cream to celebrate.
All was so right in the world.
When they arrived at the pool Yen walked up with two new metals…. Grand Champion of the whole show!!!
We laid all the ribbons out… and I noticed one of the first place blue ribbons was missing….”I didn’t want to stop her,” Beth said with an apprehensive expression.
“I gave it to the little girl who didn’t win anything,” Yen chipped up … “she only got second to last and last in her shows… She was so sad she lost and it wasn’t supposed to be a sad day… I had plenty and she didn’t. Now she is having a good day too.” I teared up… to watch her use that selfless brave love that changes hearts.
“And then I won Grand Champion!!!!!”
My HusBen would never have gone on this father son camping trip if it had not been for Ralph. Ralph is one of those humble type of guys. He does not demand much attention… or any at all. But people who can see in the spiritual know Ralph is special…. a giant of sorts. He is the type of father other fathers want to be like. And yet in the quiet moments around a fire Ralph would talk of big dreams to bring Jesus to people…. to take his wife on a wild adventure and become Jesus to people who are looking for Him. To be…Jesus…. to people who needed to see Him.
There is no bravado in Ralph…. just a heart that glows with a Light.
He just dreams of being Jesus to people.
As my husband crept in the house at 4:30am , I knew something was off. He wasn’t expected till after lunch. For him to be here at this hour meant he had left camp at 2am. If it was an emergency I knew he would wake me… I left it till morning.
As we sipped our morning tea he explained that at two o’clock the red headed kid had puked in the tent. He’s a puker that one.
“Wait! Where’s the brand new tent!?” I couldn’t help laughing.. I knew where this was heading. I know this husBen of mine well enough.
“Are you kidding? I threw it in the dumpster.”
“That was a brand new tent… What the heck,” I tried to act serious but really what would anyone have done at two in the morning with a tent full of puke?
“Good news is I am back to help with Sunday Dinner.”
a few hours later we got a text from Ralph…
“saw you leave at 0317 hours… we pulled your tent and hardware out of the dumpster and thoroughly washed it at the campground. I then brought the tent and all the hardware home with me and am in the process of disinfecting the tent and hardware. We will drop it off sometime this week. We left the sleeping bag… there was no salvaging it.”
I looked around the table of Sunday Dinnerers and we all learned about how to be Jesus as I shared this incredible story.
We all agreed that Ralph was more like Jesus than any of us could believe.
We have our tent back. It’s in the bag it came it. It smells better than when it left.
It smells holier.
I cringed as the motor roared and the herd looked up. It was only a matter of seconds till they would bolt. I had never mowed in the pasture before. This was an unfamiliar sound to them. Sheep can be a skittish bunch.
With the rumble approaching they looked up… the leaders of the flock searched my eyes. Then one by one their heads went back down to eating. Not a hoof picked up and not one flinched.
Surely on the next swipe of pasture they would run.
As I leaned into the mower to circle back around I had to slow down as they leisurely took their time at the water trough. The lambs look up and eyed me curiously. I scratched one behind her huge ears as she followed her mama back to the big pasture.
“You are their shepherd. They know if the roaring , unfamiliar smells and sounds are controlled by you, they have nothing to fear. You are overriding their perception of fear. The next generation will know even more.”
No one would believe this. I capture a picture. Sheep can be a fearful bunch. But yet… no fear. “… overriding their perception of fear…”
“Within My Hands there is nothing to fear.
No matter what others say… you must redefine your idea of what you should fear.
Let me override your perception of fear.
Fearlessly come as close as you can to Me.
There are those who do not fear… and there are those who are so fearless they return with absolute trust. “
What a great experience to teach at a school smack dab between Jeremy Riddle and Steffany Dawn Gretzinger and Sean Feucht. That is where they put our class! Seventy-five percent of the entire school signed up for our class. No pressure. I am glad I did not realize this until afterwards.
First we gave everyone a snack… because how can I not feed people…plus who wants to be in class with low blood sugar! And I took one single picture can you believe it!?
and from there…
It was amazing to see the Holy Spirit show up.
We broke off the lies people believe about creativity .
We taught them how to disciple each other and recognize the lies when they say them or when they hear them from others.
Remember how I told you about the risky experiment? Well it went beautifully. At the start of the class we brought out an object and we made them write from a place of humanness…. or your finite being. It could be a lyric, a poem or any thought at all then we had them put it away and we moved on with the bulk of the class with no explanation. Most perceived it to just be a warm up exercise. They got so wrapped up in the breaking off of lies and empowering each other they believed that to be the point of the whole class. Fifteen minutes before the end of class I brought out the same object. Then we engaged the Holy Spirit , inviting It in to the process …. we made them write again. Write a lyric, a poem or whatever He is telling you. As we sat on the fringe praying and they were writing… one would cry, one would laugh and there were more , Woah‘s then I could count.
The beauty of their second writings was jaw dropping. To see them empowered. To watch them have their minds renewed was humbling.
Each person writing about the same object and with the same Spirit but seeing the difference of what Heaven looks like in each person’s life was inspiring.
I can see the same things you see but when you bring your gifting, your perspective and your relationship with Him to it… that is the only way I can see that specific glimpse of heaven. The heaven you bring with your creative endeavors is different then the one I bring… I want to see more. I love the way He talks to me. I equally love the way He talks to you.
Ohh I went on the most wonderful date with my husBen on Monday. Our very dearest friends invited us out to celebrate a birthday with them. For many many many years I could never do that type of thing. I was so gripped by anxiety that it was never even an option. As we drove to the restaurant I was moved that even still I do not take my freedom for granted. I am so thankful to be able to just get dressed up and go out with the love of my life… but I am equally thankful that I am still humbled by His goodness in healing me. To be in that car and to be smiling is reason enough for my heart to burst in celebration… but then to be able to share the night with great friends… He is so good!
on another note…
I love getting asked to speak places. I love it even more when I get to do it with people I truly respect and enjoy. Tomorrow I will be teaching with my dear friend at a worship school. Last year we spoke at an art conference and our class was the best reviewed and most sought after class of the entire event! Can you believe it?! I did not know about this till we were invited to teach at this worship school. Apparently other people heard about our success (eek) and wanted us both to come to this school!!! We will be delving into Unlocking Creativity. I will admit , this time, I am just the smidgiest nervous. Just a teensy bit. I have this idea for an in class experiment… it could go any which way based on the students. It’s pretty risky. However, if it goes as I hope it will be story worthy for sure. You know I love the response of God to our worship… so it will be something along those lines.
So most of this week has been spent fine tuning what I will present to the class. We have gotten together and with our combined total of ELEVEN kids hashed out the whole class. Think of what we could do if we did not have to be mothering while we worked! Then again… it probably keeps us sharp.
I am so excited.
Can’t wait to share it with you.