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. 







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.}
Postscript:  Three (3) years have passed by...it is now 2018 and there is no more confusion or searching.  To see why, click on Clinging To Him.  May God bless your day.


Moonshadow said...

Oh Sherry, God love you for putting all of this out there so humbly. If I can (also humbly) add my two cents: I think sometimes we can take the Bible TOO literally. Certainly God does not view you as an adulterer with Russ; you two love each other very much and have worked so hard to live a pious life TOGETHER. The God I believe in approves of love and peace. Sending you loving thoughts and prayers for peace. <3

Sherry Sutherby http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ said...

Thank you Moonshadow. I have been "thumped" in the head by many...but I can't get by the scripture. Truly I thank you for your prayers of peace. And understanding. And thank you for taking the time to comment.

Joyce Joyce said...

Prayers. Since the Bible was written in a very different time and uses another language in a way that was customary in that time, perhaps it needs to be taken a little less literally.

Dicky Bird said...

Wow, what a post. I'm sorry you have been troubled by all of this. My sister, was seeking biblical council during a difficult time of separation from her husband. She too lived in fear of that same passage of scripture. She was given this advice from our old pastor: she was excempt from that because her husband cheated on her and entered into an adultry with another woman. She was comforted by this, as she couldn't stay in a realtionship with him and he wanted to leave her for the other woman. I don't know the reasons for your divorce, however if your X was the one who asked for the divorce and or was not "right" with the Lord...as head of the home God understands and knows all of this. You are living a repentant life - I believe that once we ask for forgivness He forgives and forgets "as far as the east is from the west." I will pray you have confidence in your salvation, your commitment in your marriage to Russ and peace. Blessing from Ringle, WI

Simply Shelley said...

Sherry, I'll be in prayer for you. I too am seeking to be obedient to his word. God knows your heart better than anyone. He has so much mercy and is very quick to forgive the repentant soul. He will guide you into all truth. Thanks for sharing your story with us. His peace be with you ♡ Blessings

Beth Robinson said...

I don't know where it is written that God is love. But it's true. However and wherever you find genuine love, it is holy and sacred. I admire your devotion and your faith. But sometimes I wonder if the literal scripture isn't a poor substitute for the voice of God we hear in our own hearts. I can hear you hearing that voice tell you two different things. And as another divorced woman, I struggle with that voice every day too. But we grow every day. Each day, we wake up an older, wiser, and new person. Not that we shouldn't accept responsibility for past actions, but life, maybe God, makes us pay for them in so many ways. You are not the person who divorced all those years ago. You are responsible for it, as you are responsible for everything you've done. But you can't undo it, and you're no longer the person who did it. You and Russ have made something beautiful of your lives, something that honors the Earth and its inhabitants. It's hard to imagine a God that wouldn't treasure that. It's hard to imagine that the love you have for Russ and your life isn't one of the many voices of God asking you to cherish what you have been given, and to protect and guard it.

OurCrazyFarm said...

Sherry, your desire for obedience to Jesus' commands is to be applauded! It is a rare trait in this day and age and is obviously a moving of the Holy Spirit. God did not take the issue of divorce lightly in Scripture and neither should His children. When God say's He hates something we are best to pay attention. John Piper offers some sound Biblical advice on this subject (too long to share in a blog comment:) to stay where you are. You have been redeemed by grace through Jesus. Grace is not a license to sin, but the ability to live through Christ even though we are sinners. Google Youtube videos for John Piper on this subject, and I'd also recommend his book, "What Jesus Demands from the World." Stay on your knees, my friend. God is faithful to lead you, but remember, He has a reputation of allowing His children to wrestle with Him.

Sherry Sutherby http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ said...

Thank you SO much, dear friends. I will comment soon, as I have do not have Internet, and I'm unable to take the time today while visiting the Library. When I comment, I want to do it with my whole heart. Again, thank you!!

Sherry Sutherby http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ said...

Terri ~ My ever bulging file contains John Piper's position paper on Divorce and Remarriage. I also ordered the book you mentioned {OCF}. Listening to his videos also, as others have also suggested in the past. I'll be writing more soon...but as of now, this remains like a ping pong game - scripture flies back and forth {pro/con}. I keep hearing the serpent (sssssss) in the Garden saying..."Has God INDEED said..." There is so much deception to weed through...

Jude 4 said...

Mr. Piper will not affirm the necessity of a holy life (within & without) in order to inherit the promise of eternal life. The apostles state clearly that the "faith which worketh by love" is all that matters. Truly it cannot be denied that unless a person is found walking after the Spirit of Love, they are as 'sounding brass...' and anything else is to "no avail." The only love the scripture proclaims is that which "loves God and keeps His commandments." Jesus also expressed this in the clearest terms; "he that loveth Me not, keepeth not my sayings." Mr. Piper is sadly aligned with many that are teaching a form of godliness without the power thereof. Though he is likely well intended in his personal theory concerning marriage, he is nonetheless in gross error. It is a necessity to depart from all iniquity, in order to receive the grace that is promised in scripture. This would include the sin of adultery, which cannot be erased by a certain duration of time. God respects no mans person, which means that the strength is sufficient to do the will of God, whenever a person denies themselves and willingly takes up the cross. It is troubling to see the well meaning 'advice' that has appeared as a response to this precious soul that is taken with a sense of conviction. I didn't read much by way of concern for the covenant husband of the writer, and the desire of Jesus that his soul not perish. The love that comes from God, which we must follow after, "worketh no ill to it's neighbor", and is "longsuffering" (literally goes the whole distance). No soul will ever lose by suffering for righteousness sake; Jesus has their reward safe with Himself, if they overcome. In order to make the point, it would seem wise to apply the common reasoning about marriage (with the justification for divorcing and subsequently 'marrying another'), to the relation of parents and children. If a son or daughter chose to despise their parents, even threaten to never see them again, is there any fair minded parent that would choose to replace their son or daughter, and acquire one that is agreeable and obedient in their place? Can anyone produce one word from scripture that shows a child to be as closely bonded as a covenant marriage? The road is narrow and few find it. Why even 5 virgins are turned away, along with those who have done many mighty deeds. Only those that are conformed to the image of Jesus will stand on His right hand, all other creeds and opinions will be lighter than vanity in the scales on that great day. Jesus will be with those that love Him, and give them peace.

Anonymous said...

Sherry just know that T and I are always holding you and Russ in our prayers K

Sherry Sutherby http://russ-stickacres.blogspot.com/ said...

Jude 4 - Thank you for your input. I have heard many of the same concerns from others, (including concern for my current husband's soul...) hence my "tug of war". I will continue to write, as I sort this out. I thank each and every one of you - those who left comments, and those who just stopped by for a read.

Anonymous said...

So very sad to read of your confusion ! Regardless what any man will tell you, Christ died for all our sins. ALL. Confess and seek forgiveness. Then go and sin no more. You sinned by divorcing your first husband, why on earth would you do it again?

Anonymous said...

It seems you have already asked for forgiveness and know the wrongs that have been done. Wouldn't you want to keep the second covenant you and your (new) husband now made before God, before breaking that? Wouldn't that technically be committing a sin as well? Sorry... just trying to share a thought.