Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

179.6!  How awesome is that?!

But I guess I should catch you up.  Day Four I worked all day and only had time for a short ab workout.  Yet I still went to bed at my lowest night time weight yet, 182 lbs.

I didn’t have any great hopes about this morning- I assumed I would weigh in slightly over 180 lbs.  So when I saw that the scale read 179.6, my first reaction was disbelief.  I weighed in three more times to be sure.  Yup, I got 179.6 every time.  I said a prayer of thanks and proceeded to get multiple high-fives from my daughter.

Thanks to everyone out there.  Your support has meant and will continue to mean a lot.  Keep my transformation in your prayers.  I am aiming for 165 lbs.  And today I am more than a pound closer.

I must apologize though for getting off track with my running. Today, we have company over, so I am not sure whether I will have time for my run- this would be the third day I have put it off.  If I don’t run today then that means I will run and resistance train this Sunday.  Although, I am hoping to fit at least one of those two activities into my day today.

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Change is difficult, change is hard on the nerves, and change is perhaps the single most important incentive to growth. Sometimes the only certain thing in our lives is change. We can encounter that change and cower in fear, we can simply roll with that change (letting it overpower us), or we can use that change to transform us for the better.

When I started this process in early February, I noticed a change in myself.

I had become intellectually lazy (I had almost stopped reading completely), I had become spiritually empty (my prayer life was practically dead), I had become financially lazy (engaged in a cycle of spending beyond our means on non-essential items), and of course I had become near hopelessly fat (my stomach jiggled when I brushed my teeth).

These things hadn’t happened over night. Each occurred gradually, the result of a long string of poor choices and bad decisions.

I took a look at myself that February day and said, “This need stop now.” I haven’t been perfect since then, I have spent money I shouldn’t have, missed bible study dates, and eaten deep fried food and calorie dense snack food. However, for the most part, 95% of how I live my life in all those areas has changed. Why did I do that?

Because I looked ahead and I saw an unwanted change coming. I looked to my financial future and I saw bankruptcy; I looked to my spiritual future and I saw the wide path that led to destruction; I looked to body’s future and saw heart attacks and diabetes. I didn’t like any of what I saw. So the choice was clear, wait for change, or begin the process of change (transformation) myself.

The process has been at times a bumpy road and at times quite difficult, but it has also been rewarding. I would advise anyone else seeking to transform their life that the change is worth it- the chance is worth it.

Birthday’s are usually a good time to reflect on your life- especially when you enter the second quarter of your earthly existence.   What have I learned?  How have I grown?  Heck, I don’t have enough space here to answer those questions.

But one thing stands out- I have a lot of learning left to do.  While my fitness situation is rapidly improving, my finances and my spiritual walk are both lagging behind.  I have taken steps in the last few days to address both deficiencies and I will continue to try to compensate for past neglect.

Beyond that, as I watched the news this morning, I heard a quote that was quite poignant.  I believe it was Mohammad Ali’s wife who said that the most important thing to remember (at least according to her husband) was that “He whom receives much from God, of him/her much is expected.”  Living in the United States, with a home of my own, with a wonderful family and good health- I consider myself rich beyond comparison.  Yeah we drive 17 year old cars that make me scared every time I turn the key; yes we are behind on some of our bills; and yes we don’t have enough to put the new roof on our house that it needs.  None of that is incredibly important though.  Why not?  Because I have faith that if the cars broke down, if the more bills piled, or the roof collapsed- whatever happens God will provide relief.  I don’t know how He will do it, I don’t know when, but I know His aid will come when the time is right.  For all this I am so grateful, but also so guilty, as I know I haven’t given back enough.

So looking forward from this day, it would be appropriate to say that I look toward a more abundant and charitable life.  Whether it means running our ranch/farm for the benefit of our community or whatever the Lord asks, I look forward to the opportunity.  I will admit I have my fingers crossed that God goes with the whole farm idea- but I am open to whatever He asks.

My wife and I had an idea a while back. In its embryonic stage the idea was about raising Alpacas on a small piece of land, it has since matured into what I am typing today. I am breaking this post apart into the goals we want to accomplish, and what we need in order to accomplish this goal.

First, what do we want to do with this farm? Well, there is quite a lot. The original goal was two-fold- to live as independent a lifestyle as possible and to help as many people (and animals) as God made possible. Of the former, I wanted to build a home and work a piece of land that allowed us to provide much of our own food, live an eco-friendly lifestyle that minimized energy bills (not because I am an “enviro” nut but because I am cheap), and provided a certain level of independence from the outside world. Of the latter, I wanted to take any excess (beyond what we needed to eat) and give much to the families in local communities who went without- whether it be families who needed firewood, eggs, milk, etc.

But now I am getting ahead of myself. In the beginning we only wanted to raise alpacas, as they are a good investment and quite a huge hit with investors- whether it be selling the fur or the actual animal. From there we began to think about owning some milking goats, sheep, and chickens (as each could provide for certain needs of drink, clothing, and food).

In addition to those animals we would keep to fulfill our own needs, I have always wanted to run an animal rescue. I love dogs- and quite frankly, I wish I owned more than two of them right now. But we thought that the dog shelter in and of itself wasn’t enough. What if we used the shelter as a program where kids with behavioral problems could work with the animals- and take steps towards their own improvement? I have read wonderful things about such programs all across the nation that already exist and help those inside prisons. Something about dogs seems to bring out a hidden part of even the worst of us. Perhaps it is their unconditional love, I don’t know.

Furthermore, the farm would include fruit orchards and pecan groves. We would pick what we needed for the season and then allow local folks to come and take from the excess for a nominal fee. Because I would also like to- depending on where we end up- be very involved in the community, and open my land to those in the community for family activities- not to mention ministry activities.

The latest addition to these ideas was born while talking with some friends. Our friends church has three spare houses where missionaries who are in between mission trips come to rest and relax from the rigors of the mission field. We thought it would be nice to build several additional small houses to provide for such a need on our farm.

There is so much we want to do, and I know to some it seems idealistic and unachievable. However, the Lord has really put this idea on my heart and I see this as highly possible. I try to stay in prayer over it, waiting to see how God makes things unfold.

But what do we need to make this happen?

First, knowledge. My wife and I have already started reading up on raising livestock and farming. Although there is no Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building Your own Farm there are many books on the subject. We have broken this down into subjects that each are responsible for- subjects that fit into our own interests. I am handling the finances of purchasing land, corporate taxes, etc., while she is focusing on the livestock part.

Second, funds. I have done countless spread sheets to see how much we can save and how long this will take. All point toward about a five year saving period that will begin this coming August. If my calculations are correct, we will need to save about $115,000 (plus sell our current home) to begin this project. Although the jury is still out on which financial vehicle we will use for investing the money over the next 5 years. Any suggestions?

Third, land. We are looking for the right piece of land. At this point I don’t know if we want to purchase it early and try to find jobs in the area, or if we should settle down in an area and try to find land. I won’t be looking at a serious job until three to five years from now- when I complete my Ph.D. Although, I have faith, that if this is what the Lord wants us to do, things will fall into place- in a way that will amaze me no doubt. He’s done it before.

Fourth, a home. We acknowledge that we might have to live in a trailer for a few years as the land and asset purchase might eat up our funds. When we do build our house we will be building a Formworks’ designed home. Just visit the linked website and check out the amazing benefits to these homes. Even you are an “enviro” you will love them, or if you are just plain cheap (like me) you will love them! And for those of you too lazy to click on the link- you know who you are- here is the list of benefits:

  • No major maintenance for more than 100 years;
  • Little or no heating/cooling needed;
  • 50 foot “free span” allows spacious Interior;
  • Thin shell construction (four inches);
  • 90% fewer pollutants & allergens than standard housing;
  • Virtually impervious to moisture and insects;
  • Tornado-proof, hurricane-proof, earthquake-proof;
  • Estimated life span 200 to 1,000 years;
  • Never been denied a building permit in any state

No more ant invasions or seeping moisture, count me in!

So what do you all think? I am a crazy dreamer, aren’t I? My head is often in the clouds. My wife is the one with her feet firmly planted in the ground. Together we make an excellent team. Doesn’t hurt that she is beautiful either.

Looks two posts back.  See all those pretty flowers and bushes in pots?  Yeah, now I need to go lug those all in thanks to the record cold temperatures sweeping through the South.  And the ones I planted in the ground will require some kind of newspaper wrapped around them (with mulch around the base).  Pray for the best, we spent a good amount of money (we probably shouldn’t have) and a lot of time an energy.  I would hate to see it go to waste.

Well here is what my yard looked like last year (shortly after we bought this house):

Front yard in 2006.

So, given our yards peculiar condition- very shady and lots of trees that like to suck up all the water (leaving little for any grass to grow)-we decided on a strategy of constructing numerous mini to mid-sized gardens.

On the small end of the spectrum is this garden:

Mini Garden

On the other end of the spectrum is the medium sized pine straw garden with a river stone walkway (a work in progress):

Medium garden  Medium garden other POV

Much work remains, but this is a good start.  What do you guys (and gals) think?