Monday, April 23, 2012

Heaven is Calling

I’m reading The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer with my dear, dear friends from church.  God used my reading today to encourage me so I wanted to share a brief excerpt. Priscilla says “Yes, heaven is calling out, looking for the faithful who will not only wake up each day listening for it but will respond to it when they hear it…God in Christ has made us different, and now He invites us to desire the things He made us different for. This is what qualifies the faithful – those who recognize, accept, and pursue God’s path, knowing He will see to it that His calling comes to fruition.” 

This journey so far has been incredibly rewarding, but if I told you it wasn’t difficult, I’d be lying. If I told you I didn’t doubt and stumble, I’d be lying.  But God is faithful EVERYDAY to encourage me and show me that I am walking according to His will. I wake up every single day seeking God’s will and direction for me on this journey. Priscilla used Moses as an example in the chapter I am reading now leading up to the excerpt above.  He wasn’t perfect, far from it, but God used him anyway because he was faithful and persistent to pursue God’s will. Sometimes he even whined and argued…but he still relentlessly pursued God.  Whew!  I’m glad to know my whining and arguing won’t dissuade God from getting me to where He wants me to go.  I will persistently pursue His will because I hear heaven calling and I know God designed me for something and I want to do whatever that is. It is well with my soul.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Road to Polyface

…continued from “Getting to the Promised Land.” On 8/2/2011 I requested and received the internship application questionnaire from Polyface. I answered all of the questions and submitted them by 8/5.  All of the questions were great, but ya know what specific question was on that questionnaire?!  You got it, a variation on my favorite question! “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”  But this time when I answered it, I smiled because although I had the same exact answer that I had eight and a half years ago, this time it was not just a hasty blurting because I really had no clue what I wanted to be doing in 10 years.  This time when I said “raising chickens,” I really meant it! 

So, after I submitted the application I gave it to God and prayed that if He wanted me to be an intern at Polyface, they would pick me. And if it was not His will that I be an intern at Polyface, they wouldn’t pick me. After waiting a couple months, and pretty much giving up on the idea that I would picked, I got an email on 10/11/2011 indicating I got picked for the next step in the application process!  Out of ~90 applicants, ~30 got picked for the next step.  What was the next step you ask?  Well, it was a two day farm visit in January 2012. I had to decide at that time if I wanted to accept the offer to participate in the farm visit. I prayed, checked my finances, and accepted!   I booked my flight to Charlottesville, VA for the end of January and continued to pray to God that His will be done.  I also started to consider downsizing my home in the event I would actually get chosen and accept the internship. However, I didn’t consider this too seriously because I don’t think I thought in a million years I would actually do it.

Months went by and I went about life as usual.  All of a sudden January was here and it was time to go to Polyface. I would be there from Jan. 19 through Jan. 22 and would work on Jan. 20 and 21. The purpose of the farm visit is for the interns to check them out and for them to check you out.  Packing for the trip was a challenge.  I didn’t want to seem high maintenance by packing everything I owned, but I simply couldn’t fit everything I thought I might need into a small bag.  There were many considerations such as what the weather is like in Virginia in the winter.  I had to be prepared so even though I didn’t want to pack the hugest suitcase I owned, I did.  

Right before I left I sent an email asking who would be picking me up from the airport.  Sheri Salatin replied to me and told me to look for the person in the Polyface shirt.  So, on Jan. 19th I boarded a plane destined for Charlottesville, VA. I had to stop in my hometown, Atlanta, on the way.  I was excited and nervous all the way there.  I read the book “Heaven is For Real” on the way which was an awesome book.  We ended up getting to Charlottesville a little early so I got off the plane and nervously paced the tiny airport looking for the person in the Polyface shirt.  After about 15 minutes I finally spotted the bright green “Grass Fed” sweatshirt (same one I got for Christmas!) and then I realized who was wearing it. It was Joel Salatin himself!  You may not know who that is, but in the sustainable farming/food industry circle, he is famous!  Needless to say, I was very excited. I had met him once before briefly when he spoke at Grant Family Farms and signed a copy of “The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer” for me. 

I walked up and introduced myself and we headed for the car.  Once in the car, Joel advised me he would have to make a phone call at some point during our drive because he needed to do a phone interview with a Pittsburgh newspaper (I think that is who the call was with anyway).  I said OK and we headed toward Polyface Farm…

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Do You See Yourself Doing in 10 Years?

I hate that question…at least I used to.  It’s that standard job interview question, and when asked I felt that if I didn’t have the perfect, grand answer, then I would fail to get the job. Well, about eight and a half years ago I was asked that question when I interviewed for a job at my current company. The interview was for a technical support analyst (help desk) job.  It was my first “real” job interview and I was very nervous.   So when the big question was asked “What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?”  I calmly said “raising chickens.” Ha!  God has a sense of humor doesn’t He?  Well, I was blessed with a job offer despite (or because of?) my answer, and here I am eight and a half years later getting ready to go learn how to raise chickens! At the time of my interview, raising chickens was not at the forefront of my ambitions, the answer just came out because I didn’t know what else to say.  I didn’t know much about IT and certainly did not know what I wanted to be doing in 10 years.  I was doing what I was "supposed" to be doing, but it seems even then God was dropping hints about what His plans were for me. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Getting To The Promised Land

This post will give a little bit of history about how I got to this point in my life. There are many, many more details about the story that I will likely discuss in future blog posts, but I want to give you the big picture here.  I have been interested in the food industry since I was 16.  I have been concerned about it in terms of the health of the animals, the environment and people. The standard American diet (SAD) is just that…sad.  We have become a very unhealthy nation…detached from our food sources and addicted to food that has no nutritional value and is full of poison.  No longer is heath care the focus in our culture…it is sick care. And I believe it stems largely from our toxic food industry. Here is an overview of how it started…

Although the most recent chapter of this story started last August, the epic saga began many years ago when I was 16.  I was sitting in the basement of our condo doing what many teenagers do…watching MTV.  A commercial came on for a certain animal rights organization offering to send me their free informational packet.  Being an animal lover, I promptly sent away for the information.  In the mail a few days later came a package with all kinds of information.  I immediately became a vegetarian…sort-of…I kept eating fish. But I cut all other types of meat.  The information in the literature I received was eye-opening and terrible.  It was the first time I had heard of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations…although I think they were just called factory farms at that time) and I wanted no part of that. Up to that point, I thought animals were raised…well… the way animals should be raised (outside and on the food they were designed to eat). So, this is what started my interested in the American food industry.  
I remained a vegetarian for a long time, but over the years I began to introduce meat. When I was about 21, I introduced poultry. At the time it was a decision made to make life easier because trying to live, cook and share life with other people who have very different ideas about food is difficult.  I continued only eating poultry and fish for many years, trying my best to be a better consumer of meat by buying better options (free range, organic, etc.). Fast forward to 2005 when I gave my life to Christ! It was soon after that I started to realize food, including meat, was a gift from God.  But I also realized God created these creatures and He said they were good. I couldn’t imagine that God wanted us to raise His creatures the way we do in our commercial food industry. I couldn’t imagine that it pleased Him to see His good creatures cooped up in cages and factories, wallowing in their own feces and being fed food that He didn’t design them to eat (i.e. cattle are designed to eat grass, not grain).  So, at that time I started introducing red meat, but again, I tried to be a good consumer and find better sources of meat (grass-fed!).
In addition to meat considerations, I have raised my own vegetables (organically of course!) for the past 18 years. Sometimes, this meant one tomato in a pot, but I have had full-fledged gardens in Boulder, Gunnison, and various locations on the Front Range of Colorado. For the past 7 years or so, I have had a plot in the community garden down the street from me in Littleton where I have learned so much about raising food in the dry Colorado climate. I will likely write more detailed posts about urban homesteading in the future, but since this is a very high-level summary of how I got to where I am today, I will leave it at that for now. In addition to raising my own food, I have been learning the art of preserving it for the past few years.
8 Ball Zucchini in My Community Garden Many Years Ago
There are many things you can do about your food sources when living in a condo. One of them is having a plot in a community garden. But one thing I have really wanted to do recently is raise my own animals for food.  This is certainly one thing I cannot do in a condo.  As an alternative, I learned to hunt. And, as God would have it, I will be going to Polyface Farm this summer to learn how to raise animals the way God intended!  This part of the story started last August in a Bible study at The Well (the women’s group at my church.) The study was called “One in a Million” by Pricilla Shirer.  The study is about getting to the promised-land. It is about “God’s call from mundane Christianity to a radical experience of Him.”  It is about the greatness and the power of God…hearing His voice experiencing His power and living in the abundance promised by Him.  Toward the end of the study, I was praying and asking boldly for God to show me what He wanted me to do in this life, and I was determined to listen and obey.  I have asked God to show me my sweet spot in my life wrt my career for many years.  I was content to remain where I was as long as that is where He wanted me.  But as I was really seeking my promised-land last August, I ran across a notice on the Polyface Facebook page that they were accepting applications for their summer interns…so, I applied, and I prayed…
…to be continued.
Pronghorn Hunt September 2011