P.O. Box 903
Mancelona, MI 49659

SNAIL MAIL WELCOME ~ we love to hear from you!
No Internet...no fancy phone.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Deer Camp Livin’





This photo was taken several years ago, when we still had horses.

The last two weeks have been exciting around here.  Turkey season opened on May 4th, which found me strolling the woods cradling my 20-gauge shotgun.  What a blessed week that was, alerted to the sound of the “long beard” calling his gobble/gobble while strutting and fanning his feathers.  He and I had some exciting moments, as I called to him with my home-made call (using my voice) and him responding, but he remains elusive to me.  For my efforts I ended up with many miles on my soon-to-be worn out shoes.  In addition, I got to see the woods change before my eyes.  The week started out cold and wet, which make the woods come alive for me.  I like walking “stealth” and wet leaves accommodate this ideal.  Towards the end of the week, hot and humid weather was upon us, making the gun seem heavier, the trails longer and me not so enthused.  (I’m a cold-weather gal.)  But I pressed on.  My hopes were revived when a turkey came to mingle with our free-range chickens, only to find it was a hen.  {Did you know hens can also have beards?}  I still have until May 31st for this 234 Michigan hunt.  We’ll see how it plays out.

We did have some additions to our poultry this week.  One of our broody hens finished her task, producing little black fluffy chicks, spotted with a dash of yellow.  I immediately went to work hard-boiling some eggs for the new little ones and Mama.  It’s a good source of easy {and perfect} protein for the newly hatched chicks.  I look forward to seeing how many chicks are produced from the next broody hen, who has 11 eggs under her.  She still has that “broody” look – squatted down on her nest with eyes producing that 1000-yard stare.  It should be soon.

Russ and I were heading out to check game trails the other night {sans dogs} and began to weave past a sea of bunnies.  Our land is filling up with the newborns who enjoy darting out from firewood and lumber piles.  At once I noticed a huge skunk barreling straight for us, on a full run, in the middle of the bunnies.  I wasn’t armed, but Russ was, so this situation was brought under control real fast.  There was a little confusion when I was yelling SKUNK, SKUNK, as we have a sled dog/cabin dog named Skunk, and an adult rabbit (loose) named SKUNK.  Finally the real reason for my yelling became evident! 

Skunk, our sled dog, after a training run.


Skunk, the bunny, who is now 5+ years old, and runs free.

As I was out walking this morning, again checking our trails for signs of wildlife, {with my friend, Ruger – who I always carry when walking alone} I reminded myself how blessed I am to be living so rustic.  Although I am anxious about moving into our “extended” Wee House this autumn, I tell myself to be thankful for the main cabin we do have, that provides a warm (unless it is –43), dry place.  This past week was one of celebration!  Our water finally thawed – it’s official – we have H2O on the porch.  No more hauling water from our Wee House to the “main cabin”.  Granted, we haven’t had water IN the cabin for well over a year, and don’t ever intend to, but the steps to retrieve water have gotten shorter in length.  God is good indeed!



"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."
Matthew 8:20

As for living rustic…I liken it to what one feels when you are at “deer camp”.  If you have ever been, you know what I am speaking about.  You feel free, alive, at one with Mother Nature.  Rather...Father God.  You can relax.  Worries tend to stay at bay.  Your only concern is to live in the moment and enjoy everything around you.  The stew simmering on your makeshift woodstove comes alive with flavor.  Your conversations with those present take on new meaning and joy.  Your sleep is hard.  You don’t concern yourself with primping, unnecessary clothing, or anything of the world.  It feels raw.  Challenging.  But peaceful.  All at the same time.  That describes our life. 

Although we take it one step further, as many of you do also.  We rely on Father God/Son of Man to provide all that we have, and will have.   In the last few years, while we chose to live with less “money” than ever before, {my early retirement from state employment} we have both been consumed with being good stewards of what comes our way.  God has blessed us beyond our desires, with what He provides.  And He always provides.  It may be in His time, but He is always there for us.

Is it easy?  No…it’s not what you call “simple living” but it is “living simple”.  It’s not about how much money you make - the more you make, the more you will spend.  It’s about what you truly need.  We are told in Proverbs “…the borrower is servant to the lender.”  {All you have to do to test this truth is to borrow money from a friend or relative.}  Try to walk away from borrowing, if you possibly can.

So it comes down to living within the parameters of the money you bring home.  I would much rather live mortgage free, as we do now – living simply, than owe vast sums that would hang over my/our head.  There is such a freedom that comes with having time on your hands.  Freedom comes in many ways, my friend.  Take a step now to pay off a debt and never go that route again.  The freedom you feel will overpower any desire to obtain a “treasure”. 

Speaking of treasure, my Dad was a true treasure, for many and all who met him.  Earlier this week (May 12th) would have been my dear Father’s 86th birthday – he passed quickly (diagnosed in late July, and died early September) with brain cancer at the age of 60 – he was an amazing man, incredible father, and my best friend.  I will always miss his presence, this side of Glory. 

Until next time, when I write about traveling to the Amish Quilt Auction with several of my black-bonnet friends, driven by my farm friend.  A van load of excitement indeed!  Oh what fun awaits.






Lord willing…

Sherry 


 

Friday, May 1, 2015

It’s me, oh Lord…Standing in the Need of Prayer





Here we are…May 1st. 

I’m sitting in our little “jinga cabin”, which still carries the remnants of a harsh winter.  Muck boots, large –100 rating LaCrosse boots, all of which take up so much space.  In addition, I’m typing on a “desk top” computer (not hooked to the Internet) so I can transfer my words from cabin to Library via a thumb-drive thingy.  So, I’m feeling crowded, and am glad for the beautiful day unfolding, even though our woodstove is still filled with slow-smoldering wood.  Birch is my favorite for this time of year.  

I just got through doing dishes.  I will miss my woodstove once it is no longer needed.  We have not had running water in the cabin for well over a year now.  So to do dishes, I must carry and heat.  Same for a bucket shower.  Same for a drink of water.  Or making coffee.  Or..or..or..  It’s doable, but more time consuming, to be sure.  And one must prepare for water usage, well in advance.

This is the first Friday in weeks that I haven’t spent the day among my Plain friends.  Two weeks ago I was invited to, and attended the school program, marking the end of the year for the scholars, many who I have come to know and love.  {To see more about the day, read my “The Seeker” Blog, which is the previous entry.}  

Last week, I traveled back into the Plain community I feel so drawn to.  I was on a mission.  I sought guidance from a very wise, kind, experienced-with-life-and-God couple.  These friends of mine are so saddened to see the pain that is experienced by not following God’s Word and direction.  Such a tangled web, indeed.  {I will write more about my search for truth...about living in an unscriptural marriage soon…}  But as for this day, I rejoiced in many friendships.  I visited a half-dozen homes, spending time in fellowship and rejoicing in His goodness.  The trips are about much more than swapping goodies.  (I usually bring home-baked cookies I’ve made, and travel home with such things as fresh milk, bacon, cheese, apples, pears, salads, and more.)  But what I really savor is the fellowship.  It’s so simple, just like their lives.  It’s holding a newborn baby, bowing my head during prayer – surrounded by a family filling the entire table space, having a little 3-year old ask if he can go home with me – as we have become so close, waving to a beloved friend as he turns a hilly corner tilling with a trio of Belgians in the spring-warmed dirt, seeing the smile on a youngster’s joy-lit face as he arrives at Grandma’s in his pony cart, cooking a hearty meal surrounded by willing children – wanting to assist.  The list is endless…and makes for many memories and wonderful days.  And it feels right.  {And they have running water…smile…}

But when I travel home, I find the closer I get to our ‘40’, I feel almost a physical spiritual need to be there.  Back home.  Back to my tiny, but adequate home.  Back to our sled dogs.  Back to our roaming rabbits.  Back to our land-raised chickens.  Back to my husband, who always welcomes me and wants to hear about my day's journey. 

I feel an urgency to “get it right”.  Time seems to fly by, as seasons turn into years.  But I know I just need to take one day at a time.  One hour at a time.  And listen for that still, small voice.  The voice of God, who directs my path.

Until next time,

Lord willing…

Sherry








Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Seeker




Sometimes I wonder just how I got here.  To this place…this place of confusion and concern.  Of seeking…

I know there are times in our lives that won’t last.  They come and go.  Solomon spoke of these times in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 - there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  So it shouldn’t surprise me that life looks very different today, than it did 14 years ago. 

Since I left my “cushy” comfortable albeit-busy life, further north in a beautiful town nestled on Lake Michigan, my life as I knew it took on an exciting new twist.  Since 2001, I have been living the life of a dog musher and farmer.  Oh what wonderful times.  A bustling full kennel of beautiful Siberian and Alaskan huskies, complete with “puppy breath” provided by three litters. 



 And not just dogs.  There were cows.  Dexter, with a bull on site. 



Horses.  And not just any horses…Mustangs. 



Pigs. 



Sheep. 



Goats. 



Cats. 



Chickens. 



Rabbits. 



We dove headfirst into our childhood dreams.  If it wasn’t Russ living out his boyhood dreams, it was me…living out my dreams.  We wanted it all…and experienced it all.  Newborn calves.  Piglets.  Lambs.  Tiny goats – single births, twins, triplets and even “quads” were born at our place.  Our lives were full and blessed.

Russ ran dogs.  Raced, and ran.  But mostly just enjoyed the trail.  He and the dogs would travel to the U.P. and train near Lake Superior.  When we met in January of 2001, he had a small kennel of 13 dogs.  We grew to 50 at one time.  Along the way we met some amazing friends, some who have since passed on to the other side of Glory.  Simply put, we truly enjoyed the family of mushers we met over the years.  We still do.

And then it all slowly changed.  I gladly retired {early} from doling out welfare at a difficult never-caught-up state caseworker job.  It was time to live in God’s economy.  Little money and lots of leaning on the Lord.  And it has worked – beautifully. 

Russ had always said, “less is more”…and at the time, we felt we did live a “simple life” in our 15 x 20 cabin, which was void of simple amenities such as “modern plumbing” and appliances.  But slowly, we knew we had to cut back on the animals.  We had run our course of searching out hay, rushing newborn goats into the cabin, along with their Mama, to thaw out in –20 late winter weather.  We both felt the need to truly live out the mantra of “less is more”, and that meant scaling down on critters.  First it was the herd of 7 cows (no more government intervention – calling in to report a cow moving down the road).  Then the lambs/sheep (no more shearer).  Then the goats (no more noise…bah…bah…bah).  Then the horses…the toughest choice of all…and the new owners had to be truly “hand picked” and perfect.  They were.  No more farrier or emergency vet calls…or making sure the hay was perfect and out of the rain.  But also gone was the beauty.  I still miss the beauty.  And the companionship of these fine animals.  



This last winter was our 2nd winter without horses.  And as tough as the winters have been the last two winters, it was a blessing they were gone.  –43 is tough on any animal or human. 


Today, we have the rabbits.  They are thriving and becoming a good source of food for us.  We both enjoy rabbit stew with dumplings.  Or baked rabbit – like fried chicken. 

Speaking of chickens, we will always have chickens.  We went from 50+, providing eggs for the local feed store for sale, down to 11 hens and one old favorite rooster.  They load up at night in their coop and free-range during the day.  A dozen roam about.  A perfect number and plenty of fresh eggs.  We don’t eat our hens.  But as they get broody and hatch out newcomers, we do consumer the excess roosters once grown.  Only one rooster on site or they fight and injure or kill one another.  Again, we enjoy the fresh meat from our own stock.

The sled dogs…through attrition we are down to 8 dogs.  Five in the kennel, and 3 are cabin dogs.  We retired from giving rides/tours to the public two winters ago.  We had been in a steady, always-booked-solid business every winter for over ten years – it was time.  We were tired.  The dogs were getting older.  We were getting older…

We will be obtaining a piglet later this spring, Lord willing, as our pork supply has dwindled.  It will be good to have a piglet or two again.  We love raising pigs.

OK…now I’m stalling.  I don’t know how to bring this issue to light.  So I’ll just jump in.

If you are reading this, you might have a inkling that hubby Russ and I try and live a life dedicated to the Lord.  We both accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  We worship Him.  We want to be obedient to Him and His Word.  And therein lies the rub…

For the last two years, give or take, my purpose has been to seek His will for my life.  I desire to be OBEDIENT.  And all this came about as I stumbled onto a truth.  His truth.  I was blind to it, until it was pointed out to me by a caring friend.  And confirmed by another caring friend…and another caring friend…and on and on.

Simply put, the Bible teaches that couples (one man and one woman) are married for life.  They become one “flesh” in the eyes of God.  Further more, it is “until DEATH do us part”…most of us have heard this…know this.  But have we really heard this…?

Truthfully, I didn’t know.   Or I didn’t pay attention.  Or…or…or…  But here I am, a divorced woman (nearly 27 years ago, after being married 14 years) and remarried for over a decade.  Happily remarried, I might add. 

Well, you say…there is not much I can do about that…it happened.  I divorced. 

But wait…there’s more.  I am told the Bible forbids marriages of a divorced person (or divorced persons) while their former spouses are still living.  (See Romans 7:2-3 and I Cor 7:39)  The Bible clearly states this is Adultery.  Period.  End of story.  Perhaps not the end of the story.

So what am I to do?  That has been the journey I have been on for the last two years.  I have asked family/dear friends/pastors across the country/any one I feel may have the {Biblical} answer…and I’m still stuck.  I feel like David, crying out as in Psalm 38:8 “I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.”   I am stuck and can’t get past this.

But I have to say, the Lord has been gentle with me/us.  Both Russ and I live with this knowledge and we are both willing to do what is necessary to be “out of sin”.  Does it mean we may have to live separate (although not divorce)?  Are we covered by grace, even if we continue to live “in perpetual knowing sin”…as adulterers, even though we are married?  The answer is just out of reach.  At least for me it is.



Who brought this to light?  Those who know me outside of this Blog know I have spent much time among my Amish friends these last two years.  I consider their church, my church, whether it is a German service (with an interpreter) or during the “off Sunday” where Sunday School is delivered in the English language.  I correspond, both by written word, and phone, if necessary.  I rejoice in the cycle of life…celebrate and cuddle the newborns, and shed tears over the simple, but beautiful casket of a dearly departed friend.  I eat at their tables, and go to sleep with the gentle lullaby of a windmill hovering over the pristine farm pond.  I am honored to be a part of their world, as I was this past week when I attended the “end of school” program in their “one-room school house/church” featuring their beloved scholars, who I adore.  It was not only a school program where the upper grades, ending with the 8th grade, recited an entire chapter of Paul’s teachings, but the families hosted a BBQ chicken dinner with “sides” and mid-afternoon snacks too numerous to mention, complete with a baseball game played in beautiful spring weather.  

I have felt truly at home in many of the comings and goings of these fellow Christians in the past years.  And although I have been familiar with many Amish settings in the last 30 years across many communities {many of those you will find on this Blog} I have now escalated into taking on aspects of this Plain life, witnessed by my head covering and the wearing of skirts.  But beyond the Plain way of living, what draws me to this group of people is their continued thirst for His truth, and fierce obedience.  In turn, these bonneted friends of mine “weep with those who weep” and have experienced my many, many tears over this struggle for His truth.  They guide me, and comfort me, as I continue on in my search for “the answer”.  And I keep coming back to one thing…

We serve a holy God.  GULP…

Do I believe the Bible?  Yes, EVERY word. 

I believe that Christ Jesus, fully human/fully God, came to die for our sins.  He resides in me. 

In addition, the Holy Spirit is ever present for me.  I strain to listen to His prompting, and He is a comfort to me. 

So what do I do?  I have a wonderful, caring, supportive husband who won’t stand in the way should I chose to leave.  And why should I leave a wonderful husband who I love dearly?  And the life I treasure, on our 40 acres… 

I have a lot to answer for…either it’s correct, and I shouldn’t be living in this situation, or I leave my dear husband…and forsake OUR marriage vows, which I understand the Lord doesn’t have written in His book…because I’m already in the book…with my first husband.  What to do.  What to do.  Which is the right fork in the road? 

The battle continues…and if the Lord does not tarry, and returns, I pray He will know I was attempting to follow His will.  His teachings.  God help us.

You may say, “…hey…no worries…everyone I know is divorced and remarried.  For some, multiple times.  It’s what it is in these times today…there are worse things in the world.”  But again, our God is holy and His word is true.  And His word never changes.  Ever.  He tells us that…

I suppose I’m writing this now so you will know where I’ve been in this “quiet” time…why I barely checked in on my Blog these last months/years.  This has been a huge battle for me.  Some of you, very few, knew.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t want anyone else to be going through what I am facing…  But mostly I’m writing this for support.  For prayer or comments.  To keep someone else from making the same mistakes I made.  Marriage is sacred...

And also, talking about my Amish friends is difficult, as they are so special, and private.  But they are so woven into my life ~ they are a huge part of my life ~ I will give them the respect I give all my friends with regards to privacy.  But I will also share their teachings, which we could all benefit from…in this time of trouble.

If you have any comments, or wish to contact me privately, please do so.  {I clear all comments before they are made “public” so just leave your email if you wish, I won’t publish your post – we’ll just continue privately via email.}

And to those who I owe a personal letter, thank you for your patience.  I will respond.  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Until then, please pray for me…for understanding and wisdom.

I’m the “seeker”…
Proverbs 8:17 
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.”

Until next time, Lord willing.

Sherry  {This Blog was “hubby” approved.}