“Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had 100 sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the 99 on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away?” Matthew 18:12 (Contemporary English Version)
This verse has been literally wrecking me.
In the best way.
And it all came together for me for the first time in a REAL way a couple months ago, when we got our goats. Our GOATS.
You need to understand, Chip and I were raised as city folk. Chip is from a suburb north of Dallas and I’m from South Dallas. Neither of us have any earthly idea what the crap we’re doing out here in the country. We merely wanted a slower pace of life, a good neighborhood to raise baby Frank, and a little space. Two and a half years later (read: 2 acres, a pond full of life, 10 chickens (minus the 8 roosters we had to kill), 2 goats, 3 feral cats, and a DONKEY later. Not to mention the dogs we already had, one of which is deaf with three legs.) we still look at each other almost daily and say…..
“How did we get here?!” (Which, incidentally, you may have noticed is the name of this blog.)
I forgot to mention that another pretty big reason we moved outside city limits was for my mental health. I found myself in a place where my mental sanity was quickly slipping away as I held a job that was slowly killing me from the inside out (not to sound melodramatic).
The fresh air, sound of the wind blowing through the leaves of our 40 plus trees, bird’s beautiful songs every morning and general peace and tranquility have healed many of my wounds. As have all these blasted animals. Let me tell you about a few of them….
Tina, the light golden chicken. Not to be confused with Shanda, the dark golden chicken.
Let’s be honest. Tina is a huge bitch. She’s a mother hen, and incredibly self sustaining. If a mountain lion comes in the yard, I’m hiding behind Tina, because that brawd is ruthless and incredibly protective of her turf. If I were ever to withhold her meal worm treats she would actually peck me to death, I am convinced. Sometimes she follows me around the yard with a big ol’ attitude and I’m not even sure why. What did I DO, Tina?!
We threaten her with the grill at least 8 times a week.
But one night I saw a side of Tina that softened my heart towards her forever. I saw her vulnerable and defenseless and SCARED. And I can never look at her the same. I love that dang chicken with everything that is in me, and if something ever happens to her, God help me, I will have to curl up in the back of my closet and be left alone to cry for hours.
But, back to “the night”….
We were acclimating her little flock from the box in the garage out into the chicken coop (and her newfound life of free ranging all over the ever-loving yard.) Those chickens were breathing in all the freedom and eating all the crickets and making me such a proud mama.
The thing is, when chickens are learning their new way of life and figuring out when to go into the coop, sometimes they lose their way those first few days and we have to catch them, carry them to the coop and physically shut them in. (by the way, if you ever want to see Chip lose every ounce of patience he’s ever had, come over on one of the “catching the chickens” evenings. God bless the poor man.)
Tina has a really great sense of direction, but for some reason on this night she couldn’t seem to find her way off the back porch and out into the dark night to the coop. She was pacing and squawking and every time we tried to help her, she’d peck at us and jump away. We decided to go in the house and leave her to her own devices for a bit. Once we felt enough time had passed, I cautiously walked back out to her and said in a quiet voice, “Are you done fighting? Can I take you to safety now?” She surrendered and allowed me to pick her up, pet her feathers and slowly walk her through the darkness to her coop. And thus our love/hate bond was forged.
Next we have Regis the Donkey…
He has no interesting story, per se, but he is the most calming presence on the farm. He is beautiful and strong and gentle. He cries any time he sees one of us and baby Bob is his favorite person in the Universe.
It’s harder for me to leave Regis than it is my own children. My kids don’t cry and paw at the fence when I leave, but Regis does.
He is a presence as he protects his flock from predators. I’m awoken many a night hearing his bray, wondering what he’s scaring away. A coyote? A bobcat? Perhaps a cougar?
Or maybe he just wants to chat with Virgil, the donkey down the road, which is one of his favorite pastimes.
Who really knows, but Regis is my favorite pet of all time. He’s also my screen saver. So there you have it.
Now we come to Thomas, the goat.
Thomas is a feisty little fella with a mind of his own. He does what he wants and he’s a little guy on a big ol’ power trip.
God bless him.
Thomas stood out to me the moment I saw him. We were picking out which goats we wanted, and Thomas was a spotty little diva in a sea of his comrade Nigerian Dwarfs. He is sassy and clever and a big huge glutton.
The first night we brought him home, the little devil somehow wedged his way through our neighbors’ horse fencing and was having a field day in their yard. As soon as I noticed, I screamed to Chip, he dropped what he was working on and that 6’3” hunk of a man leapt over that fence faster than I knew he could even move! Huzzah!
I stayed on our side of the fence as we chased Thomas down. Poor kid (pun intended) was frightened and didn’t know where he was or who we were and quickly became terrified.
Then this song (from the above mentioned verse) started playing in my mind….
……..and I understood God so well in that moment. In a way I’ve never experienced before.
I am that one lost sheep. God pursued me and called after me and saved me.
I was a sobbing mess, y’all.
Thomas heard my voice and finally calmed down long enough to allow Chip to wrangle him and we brought him to safety (and reinforced the fence, in case you were wondering).
Lately I’ve felt a little lost and a little like Thomas. Just running and unsure of where the path is. Unsure of my purpose and unsure of lots of things. But I always come back to the truth that God loves me. He pursues me. And he’s always waiting on me to just turn back around, surrendering to Him… Allowing Him to quiet the voices telling me the crazy things. I’m turning toward the Shepherd who loves me and who just wants to bring me home.
I sit down in the pasture, breathe in that fresh farm air, raise my glass of Chardonnay to Regis and say…