Thursday, October 20, 2011

a heavy millstone

The new faucet I put in.

10/20/11 Thursday
It’s starting to warm up a little, but I like the cool weather. I’m still getting used to this new laptop but it’s a great improvement over the old one. Biggest issue I have with it is that the keyboard is not centered because this one has a number keyboard on the right side so that slides the rest of it over. The touchpad is much larger than on the Toshiba and that is causing consistent problems. I’m used to resting my palms on the base of the keyboard and with this touch pad the heel of my palm touches it quite often, with some unwanted results. So I must learn a better way of holding my hands as I type. It keeps popping up screens that I am not familiar with, such as one that says “zoom” and other modifications of the view. On occasion it makes those modifications despite me not wanting them.

I just installed a new faucet for the kitchen. The old one had been given to us by Amy, a friend we met through the blog, along with the kitchen sink. It was great but the water out here is destructive. All faucets here develop leaks as the salt and minerals build up inside them. Salt is unfortunately one of the most corrosive natural elements out there and apparently ate through the metal of the faucet. Of course we have to wonder what else is in the water due to the extremely high level of oil field work done all around us. Fracking is a fairly new technique used these days to increase the production of oil wells but unfortunately that has often been linked with the corruption of the water supply.

We will be going to visit Cherie’s folks up in Ohio before the year ends. She is looking forward to that and it will be good for her. Out here there is no one close we can call a friend and that definitely contributes to her feelings of isolation and loneliness. We really have a hard time understanding the mentality we have run into in this area. What makes it even more sad is the “Christian” label so many wear but show no outward signs of actually practicing. Jesus died for us all, and gave only two commandments. Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. We have found many good friends in Midland and through the Kairos prison ministry but they are miles away and visiting isn’t a practical thing. We had so looked forward to making friends and becoming a part of the community here in Stanton when we first moved here, and were baffled at the response we got. First we were rejected at the Baptist church. Gossip evidently played a big part in that. No one talked to or with us, but they had plenty to say about us when we weren’t around. Four years later we decide to attend the little church down the road called Hosanna. We attended faithfully a year and once again we experienced that cold we had found in the Baptist church. I know I talk about these things a lot, but I have good reason. We have heard and seen so many stories of those who should be showing the love of God doing quite the opposite. I can only imagine how Jesus’s heart breaks each and every time this horrible, and total, disobedience of the heart of our faith happens. How sad that the ones performing this sin so often believe they are doing the right thing. I see the same arrogance and self-righteousness that was so often displayed by the Pharisees in them. May God have mercy on them for Jesus said "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. I would not like to be in their shoes.

We’ve got tons of watermelons that need to find a home. With all the time I’ve spent with the prison ministries we have been unable to make any of the farmers markets. I’ve sent out emails to those we know to get the word out. If any of you readers who are near want some watermelon just let me know.

Time to go now. Good night folks

Monday, October 17, 2011

Red out

10/17/11 Monday

I’ve seen blackouts, and endured whiteouts up north when the snow blew so hard you couldn’t see five feet in front of you. I think I’ll call what I just drove through on the way home from the prison a red out. While we were at the prison teaching the “Quest for Authentic Manhood” class a storm blew in. We heard a rumbling sound that almost sounded like thunder, except it was constant. Looking out the prison window we saw a red sky full of blowing sand. Everything got dark as it thickened and soon the guard came in to shut down the class. All the inmates were ordered back to their cells and the prison was put on lockdown. I knew it was a serious storm then. We headed back out through security and made the very sandy dash to our vehicles. I had to use both hands to get the door to my truck closed against the wind.

Sitting in the truck I called Cherie as it rocked back and forth in the intense wind. “Is it blowing there yet?” I asked. “Of course it’s blowing” she replied, because the wind always blows out there, so I explained about the storm that was heading her way. She went out and checked for things that might blow away and I headed home.

It was a long drive home. Visibility at times was so bad I couldn’t see the end of the hood on the truck. Part of the drive was spent going five miles an hour as I strained to see the white line that marked the side of the road. Whenever possible I would go faster but it was a little scary. Lots of oil field tanker trucks were on the road, as they always are out here, but they were moving slowly with hazard lights flashing. Despite being intimately familiar with the road home I had to creep up to where I knew the stop sign was because it wasn’t visible till I was feet away. Cherie had all the lights in the house on because she knew I would have a hard time finding the house. I still had to creep along the side of the road to try and find our driveway and almost drove past it.

Boy, is it good to be home. Even walking from the truck to the front door, a journey of about 20 feet, had me covered with a layer of sand. I took a washcloth and wiped as much of it off as I could but I’ll have to take a shower. Sand is everywhere, in my eyes, teeth, and when I blew my nose I thought I had a serious nosebleed till I identified it as sand.

It’s always good to see the guys at the prison. And they generally are glad to see me too. I was greeted warmly when I walked in and some pulled me off to the side to ask advice or talk about issues they were dealing with.

That’s all for now. I’m tired and looking forward to some sleep.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Went to the doctor

10/12/11 Wednesday
Went to the doctor yesterday about what I thought was an infected big toe. Turns out I have something called gout. I’ve heard about gout many times but never understood what it was, other than it causes a lot of pain. I had figured the toe was infected because there had been a thorn in it that I had pulled out and squeezed pus out of. You can still clearly see where that thorn had been and the whole area had swollen up and turned red. It hurt so badly that walking was extremely difficult despite my high tolerance for pain. Kept hoping the infection would go away but it didn’t seem to so we went to the VA hospital in Big Spring. They did blood tests and I was surprised to learn there was no longer any infection at all, but high levels of uric acid, a sure sign of gout. They gave me medicine for it along with a list of foods I should avoid. The most important thing they said I need to do is drink lots of water, so I’m working hard on that. With the weather cooling off I haven’t been drinking as much water so that’s the big reason this happened. The infection just provided an area for the uric crystals to form so was the catalyst for this.

There are good things that can come out of anything bad. I’ve been needing to write for a while but haven’t been real focused on it. Now that I am hampered from working on the farm and not anxious to walk anymore than I have to I am forced to focus on writing. I see this as God sitting me down a bit.

There is much to do, always. Income taxes for last year need to be completed by the 18th, so that’s a rush. The VA is still confiscating all federal payments we get as we continue the three year long appeal process. Meantime, because we are listed as owing the federal government money, we are exempted from all USDA and federal programs designed to help beginning farmers and those starting up businesses. We are still putting together the business plan for the home inspection program we were trained and certified by the state to perform.

I sold the big diesel truck so now we are looking for a replacement vehicle, preferably a pick up truck that I can use on the farm. May go to Ohio to get one as there are great deals up there because the economy is so poor. If anyone reading this knows of a good deal on a truck let me know. I would love to get a diesel for several reasons but they cost way more than gas trucks do. God will provide, as He always does.

I’m not getting far on putting the booster pump in. As it seems to be with all my projects, I get started and then don’t seem to go anywhere. This drives me crazy and I’m sure doesn’t make Cherie real happy either. Our electric bill appears to be very high at the well so there is something that is not right. We don’t know enough to figure that out and can’t really afford to have someone look at it. What we know is the water pressure is low and the electric bill is high.

I planted winter wheat and rye grain when I knew some rain was finally on the way. Here you can see how I took a fertilizer spreader and tied it on the back of my disc to spread the seeds. Then I drug the old tires I had bolted together on top of it to press the ground down. Waiting to see if that did any good. I am always guessing on how to do things and am never sure because I can’t remember how I did it last time or what the results were.

We haven’t seen many snakes this year. I was harvesting watermelons one morning and after cutting a melon from the vine rolled it over to pick up. There was a young rattlesnake curled up under it that I didn’t see till my hand was about two inches away. It was cold so the snake wasn’t moving very fast. Later, as I was cleaning up the veranda area, I pulled a chair out to shovel the sand that had blown in out. There was this rattlesnake curled up under it. I shoveled it into this rat trap and took it to the tank that’s a couple of hundred yards away, where I released it. They keep the mice and rat population down and I’m all for that. You always have to be careful out here cause you never know where a snake might be. That holds true among people too.

Those who build and those who tear down

10/10/11 Monday
It’s past time to give you all an update. Those of you who care want to know how things are going and those who want to keep tabs on us want to know as well. Our fake Ricardo sure wants to do that, but his/her motives are far from pure. But that’s ok, our God reigns and those who wish for us to fail will be constantly disappointed.

There is an old song I remember that says “Two kinds of people in this world, winners, losers”. While there is some truth to that I understand that things are more complex than this. There are in this world those who build up and those who tear down, the encouragers and the ones who enjoy pointing out all the failures in ones life. We understand that well, and have seen much of it. It’s so sad when those who strive to tear down are the ones who also proudly wear that “Christian” label. God is real clear about what He thinks of them, and it’s not good. A problem is that those who are so proud and arrogant about who they are in the church are also blind to themselves, unable to see or even recognize their hypocrisy.

We had a wonderful visit by Mark Case yesterday. Mark is a man of God who has traveled the world and has a message for the church of today. It’s a message that many don’t want to hear but those who don’t want to hear it are the ones who need to hear it the most. We’ve known Mark for a couple of years now and were so happy when he called to say he’d stop by. He had given a message at that little church in Stanton, the one we used to attend, so was close by.

We talked for quite a while, discussing issues in the church, the world, and our lives. We did a little bible study as Mark revealed some deep things he has been shown. Unfortunately he has a busy schedule and needed to get to Dallas so we had to cut the visit short and send him on his way. There are great needs in our area for accurate teaching of the bible, to counteract the many false teachings that circulate around, so Mark encouraged us to continue seeking avenues to do so. He understands our desire to not cause problems with another church, the one that rejected us, but said that we can’t let that get in the way of what God wants. Thus I am encouraged to start a bible study in the area and will look for avenues to do so. If others feel that this is done out of spite that is their problem, for my heart is pure in my reasons for doing this. I don’t see our faith as a form of competition, but so many others do. Jesus was clear when He, after being told that there were others doing things in His name, said “If they are not against me then they are for me”.

It is so sad when we see discord in the church. Don’t all these people understand that we are on the same side? Why don’t they all join in together to help each other achieve the goals that Jesus set before us all, to love. For our morning devotional I read again out of John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples feet. After He did that they all observed the Passover dinner, where Jesus broke the bread and explained that this was His body, broken for us. When they had all eaten Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.

How is this a new commandment? It’s the same one that has been around for ages, a principle of the faith found in the old testament, where it says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself”. So what makes it new? Jesus said we should love one another as HE loved us. That’s what makes it new, the example Jesus gave through His life, where He even died for us all.

But make careful note of what else He said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples”. Understand that when we fail to love each other, especially in the church, that the world will also know that we ARE NOT His disciples. The world is watching and sees every act, both good and bad, and you can bet it sees the bad quicker than the good. So when we get angry, spiteful, resentful, jealous, or any other thing against those who are in the family of God, and all others too, the world watches in disgust, saying “Look at those hypocrites” and many doubt God because of it.

Jesus said “Whoever causes the least of my little ones to stumble, it would be better for him that a millstone were hung around his neck and that he was thrown into the deepest part of the sea”. There is a judgment we all must face, so we should always walk carefully. In Mathew 7 Jesus said “"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Enough of that. I’ve got things to do. Will go to the prison tonight and teach some of the guys there.