Saturday, December 12, 2015

Is Radical Healthy?

Radical Christian

Radical follower of Christ

Radical for Jesus 

equals . . . 

A Radical Lifestyle, right?

This is what I thought I wanted to be,


 This is what I found for a definition:

a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist.

When we first joined Gospel for Asia, 12 years ago, we thought we were being radical--following Jesus no matter what the cost.  We left our beloved state of Colorado, our home that we intended to grow old in, our church community and our ability to earn our own money.  We were going to become missionaries (the most radical lifestyle we could think of), but in the safety of in our own country.  Without having to learn a new language and culture, we would move to Texas, raise our own support by sharing what we were doing and praying people would want to sponsor us.  We took our 4 children, put our house up for sale and relocated to Texas to be radical followers of Jesus!  

We were moved by the shame we felt of being wealthy Americans living in a free country, while other people were starving and were mistreated in other countries. We repented. We surrendered. We wanted our lives to matter, to count, to mean something to advance the Lord's kingdom.

We came with hearts ready to serve at the ministry in anyway we could to make a difference for eternity.  I feel like all the staff came with this purpose, this dream.  I was ready to live radically.  But what did that mean?

As the definition states, we were ready to be extreme.

For 12 years, I listened to the leadership preach sermons about "staying in the battle."  Continually we were encouraged to not "lose our calling."  We were to be "reaching the lost at all costs." We were to be daily "dying to ourselves."

At first these teachings were refreshing.  For we thought this is what "true" Christianity was.  We were tired of living the "normal" Christian life.  We wanted to be different.

I evaluated everything according to the bar of radicalness.  Was I living simply enough?  Could I sacrifice more?  Was I spending my time wisely enough?  

I knew I was saved but I certainly didn't want to waste my life living frivolously for myself.  I did not know this at the time, but what I was really asking God all the time was if I was radical enough for Him. 

I was already "set apart" from the world when I got saved in my early 20's, but now I was wanting to be set apart from even the Christian mainstream world.  With this mindset, I found myself being stripped of everything I was.  If I was to die to myself, then I had to have no desires of my own.  My flesh had to die.  The problem with this thinking is that I did not know what was fleshly and what was just me, my personality, the way God made me.

In all the devotionals given by the leaders, these statements were the ones I remember most:

Your old friends will not possibly understand you so don't confide in them.
Well meaning family will pull you away from God's work.
Retirement is not in the Bible.
While you vacation, or shop, or sleep, people are dying and going to Hell!
Could you not pray for 1 hour?
How many shirts or pairs of pants do you need?
If you quit going to Starbucks every week, you could support a child in India.
80,000 people are dying a day and going to Hell so what are you doing about it?

We were required to attend prayer meetings once a week and had an extended prayer time once a month where we prayed for hours at a time until the wee hours of the morning.  These meetings were touted as Gospel for Asia's success story.  Prayer was a huge priority and talked about regularly. If we weren't doing anything right, we couldn't be blamed of not praying!  And if we were praying constantly for needs on the field then the ministry must be based on prayer.  How could a ministry based on prayer go south?  Even when we were falling asleep and still mumbling something, we felt God was honored by our "beating our bodies into submission." Wasn't this a selfless act?  We were denying ourselves sleep in order to pray for others.  Wouldn't God be pleased?

This only created an elitist attitude in me.  I was more devoted than the average Christian because I participated in these meetings and consistently showed up for years.  Most Christians I talked to couldn't believe we prayed for hours.  Now that was radical!  There's that word again.

These were mandatory meetings required unless we got permission from our supervisor to miss; we were EXPECTED to be there. This was also a part of submitting to our authorities.

Being submissive was another pillar of Gospel for Asia.  We all were taught that Americans have a hard time with this and this was our downfall.  Especially as women, we had a fleshly nature to rise above man and this was sin.  So we were expected to not have a voice.  Our role was to submit to our husbands and support them in the work of the ministry.  We were to raise our kids, keep the house, cook, and take care of anything that would distract our husbands from focusing on the ministry.  I watched as many women, whose husbands traveled frequently to speak on behalf of GFA, were expected to raise their children alone.  If we broke and expressed weakness, then Satan was getting a foothold in our lives and using the woman to pull her husband away from his calling.  We were frequently encouraged to examine our hearts and confess our sin.  If this was a struggle, then we just weren't humble enough.

For me, this was all done to prove how radical we were. But how could I not live under a blanket of guilt?

I didn't follow all the expectations. I went to ladies retreats (non-GFA) the last few years we were there, even though I knew that was frowned upon.  We did take some vacations, mostly went camping, because that's all we could afford. When my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in Costa Rica, we kept it quiet for fear of how it would look to others.  Even though we used all our points through a Hilton program for the stay and American Airlines points for the flights.  All we had to pay for was any excursions or souvenirs.  But it wasn't just about the money we spent; it was about relaxing. Radical Christians didn't waste time enjoying themselves.

I remember when I realized that KP's (the president of the ministry) daughter got married she went on a honeymoon missions trip to help the poor.  Most thought, "Wow, are they dedicated!  Look at what they have sacrificed because of their love for the less fortunate!" We were all shown pictures of their trip--probably to use this as an example of how dedicated we should all be.

Was I that dedicated?  How radical did I need to be?  What was I trying to prove and to who?

Now that we have left GFA, all I want to do is go back to being who I was before we joined GFA. I want to be a normal Christian.  One who takes one day at a time, is a light to those around me, one who sits at Jesus's feet.

Living radically has made me tired. . . confused . . . somewhat lost

I'm processing God's view of me.  He made me with special abilities and talents, desires and interests.  He made wonderful things in life that are meant for us to enjoy.  He gave us families meant to be reared by both parents. He meant for us to be creative, to support one another in community, and rest.  He made rest.

Being a part of a radical ministry where our performance was evaluated, along with my own views of radically Christianity makes for a lot of pressure.  Getting out of this ministry has given me my freedom in Christ back.  God came to set us free from a yoke of slavery!  Why put yourself back under these radical expectations?

Freedom and Grace are refreshing words to me now!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

An Evil Report?

Last time I blogged about rules.  I've been thinking a lot about that and need to unscramble all the memories and junk racing through my brain.  Maybe if I get it out on paper, it will make more sense and I'll be able to learn from it.  After all, God does take dysfunctional situations and makes them new, right?  I do believe he can redeems all things.

I've spent the last 12 years serving at a ministry called Gospel For Asia.  It was always stressed that we should not listen to an evil report especially something said about the ministry or the leaders in it. It would defile us.  Listening to negative words or gossip would forever be in our brains and would defile our perception of the very people we serve and have authority over us.  Lots of verses about the tongue were used to support this claim.  Women were specifically singled out and warned against this.  None of us wanted to be labeled a busybody.

I have to point out that I rarely heard anything but positive things about leadership.  When a staff person left the ministry, they always left quietly so as not to cause division.  This always left questions in my mind about the "why's" but I was never allowed to ask questions.  It was an unspoken rule to mind your own business. Besides, there might be an "evil report" wrapped up in the "why's" which would cause me to forever doubt the character of my leaders.

An incident occurred about 5 years into our time there where I was personally accused of not just listening to an evil report but actually participating in it.  The words "evil report" were not used but they might as well have been. At the time, I was harshly rebuked, shamed, and put in my place.  I struggled for almost a whole year afterwards but was able to forgive and somewhat forget.  "Forget" isn't really an appropriate word to describe it but more accurately would be the word "suppress."  So I went on suppressing my experience and believed I was somewhat successful in putting it behind me.

What really made me go back and remember all those horrible details from about 6 years prior was when a friend of mine at the ministry was similarly treated and she told me about it.  I wanted to defend her and shout from the roof-tops "This is not right!"  But I knew from my own experience and the unspoken rules at GFA that you do not question or confront leadership but rather our role was to submit and obey.  I would not have another run in with KP if my life depended on it!

My friend had spoken an "evil report" against the President of the organization, K.P. Yohannan.  At least that was what she was accused of.  She couldn't remember saying anything against him but someone had secretly told on her ( just like in grade school).  She didn't know who told and she didn't know what she'd said.  Her husband was called into KP's office for a closed meeting and harshly rebuked for not being able to control his wife and a new rule was put in place regarding her, as her punishment, I guess.  She was no longer allowed to cut the staff's hair.  She cut my hair, that's how we became friends.  So embarrassed by this whole mess, she sent out an email to all the staff who had regularly received haircuts and told them she was no longer allowed to cut our hair and she pleaded for the person to come forward who had gotten her in trouble so she could understand what she had said that had gotten her and her husband into so much trouble.  I find it ironic that if someone is perceived to be spreading an "evil report" it is squelched in this way when in all actuality KP is the one hearing a report that he perceives as "evil" and not giving anyone the ability to explain what might have been said!

Is this Biblical?  Is this the way we are to reconcile differences.  Aren't we supposed to go to the brother or sister who sinned against us and confront in love?  I mean not only was there no love, there was not a confrontation with the offender!  Instead, her husband was blamed and left standing there speechless.  What could she have possibly said that couldn't have been reasoned with?  Aren't we in America where people are given a fair trial?  She was not given a chance to know what she said or explain how her statements might have been misunderstood.  Instead the "teachers pet" was believed and trusted.  Doesn't this sound like kindergarten?

We learned through situations like this at Gospel for Asia, that we were immature and had so far to go to become like our leader. I personally believe she was used as an example to others not to mess with KP.  Through humiliation and rules we were oppressed.  We were taught regularly that it was a privilege to work there.  That God takes inexperienced people and uses them in great ways.  We were just worms whom God had chosen and we were not to forget it.  These are half-truths used to make us think lowly of ourselves and submit to those who knew more than us.

My friend's experience reminded me of my own many years prior.  I had suppressed that experience because it was really painful to remember it.  But, I realized the same had happened to me.

I had been meeting with several ladies for tea and dessert once a month.  We were all young moms and our husbands served at GFA.  We had many things in common and one of those things, was that all 4 of us desired to have deep relationships with other godly women.  This is why we formed this group.  We wanted to encourage on another and spur one another on to love and good deeds. Looking back now, I realize that deep relationships were inadvertently discouraged because as women we had a fear of opening our mouths and really getting personal with each other but at this time, we didn't really know this. We were naive.  We had many evenings at the restaurant where we laughed, cried and shared our deepest prayer requests.  It was a safe group of friends.  We were excited to do "life" together.

One night during our regular get together we were wrapping it up when one of the ladies mentioned something she had noticed KP speaking regularly against.  She wondered how the rest of us were understanding his "less than positive" teachings on home schooling. She had been struggling with how to interpret his views on this since she was just beginning to home school herself.  Another gal mentioned that maybe he didn't know that many of those home schooled kids would probably grow up to serve there and that many of the leaders kids were already doing that.  In fact many of the home schooled kids were the ones volunteering at GFA because they weren't chained to going to public school but had the freedom to get their school done at other times and volunteer a fews hours a week. We definitely agreed he didn't seem to approve of our choice in home schooling and I personally felt relieved that I was not the only one who was interpreting his messages this way. It was a short conversation with one of the 4 not saying a whole lot.

This one friend felt very uncomfortable because (and I'm speaking for her right now, assuming what she was thinking and feeling) she felt maybe this was crossing that unspoken rule of judging KP's teachings.  We had crossed over into an unknown territory and it made her uncomfortable.  Well, she confided in a leader's wife this information and was seeking council about it, not ever dreaming she would get us all into trouble.

One by one our husbands were called into the principles office!  The only difference between me and the others was that my husband wanted me to go in with him.  He didn't know what went on that night because he wasn't there and surely we could go in and talk with KP,  with respect for all involved.  He had an "open door" policy that he spoke of often.  This would be our first time to use it.  Surely we could resolve this in no time, after all, we hadn't done anything wrong.  I have an honesty, open discussion policy of my own that almost always works and clears up misunderstandings.  I prepared myself to just lay it out there and tell him how we all felt about his teachings on home schooling.  I assumed he would be understanding and discuss this with me in a civil manner.  You guessed it, I was so wrong.

There was no discussion.  I said one sentence and that was the end of my opportunity to discuss anything with KP Yohannan.  He was so fuming mad, I couldn't get in a word edgewise.  My motives were questioned, my call was questioned and I'll never forget his words to me, "Did I realized how important my husband was in the ministry?  Why would I put that in jeopardy?"  As If this whole thing might get us kicked out!  Really?   And then he said," If it were up to him, women wouldn't be allowed to get together and pray because that's just an excuse they use to gossip!"    Oh, that's what we need, another rule! Well, we all knew he could not institute that rule.  It would never fly, but I got the impression that it's only because he was dealing with Americans.  I'm sure if he were in India, he would make that rule.  For all I know, it is a rule over there at the headquarters but isn't publicized!

My husband and I said nothing that day.  I'm sure everyone in their little cubicles outside his office heard him shouting at us from behind that closed door.  I was wounded.  I cried every time I thought of it.  Quite frankly the only thing defiled was my reputation before KP.  I still went to prayer meetings to prove that his words would not hurt me.  To prove that I followed Christ and not him.  I knew he expected us to leave but we wouldn't hear of it.  We never even discussed leaving over it.  We gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured he was just having a bad day.  We moved on and I learned to suppress my feelings.  I learned to forgive even though my offender never asked for forgiveness. In public he spoke to me, smiled at me, and acted as if nothing had happened between us.

I don't think the 4 of us ladies ever met again as a group.  Two of the families left shortly after that. The 4 of us never spoke of it.  We remained friends but that incident was never spoken of again for years. In fact, we never asked why they left the ministry.  I guess we were taught to be afraid of the truth.  We were never trusted to be able to discern an evil report from a truthful report.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Brand New Drum

I've been listening to a lot of Christian pop music in the car recently just because I'm in the car all the time it seems.  So this song keeps coming on that is a fun, hip-hop sort of song called Day One by Matthew West.

After moving on from ministry at GFA, it does feel like a brand new day.  Day 1 of the rest of my life, the future has begun.  Mercies new every morning and I'm marching onto the beat of a brand new drum, yea, here I come, the future has begun!

What I didn't catch is this part of the song.

Well, I wish I had a short term memory
Wish the only thing my eyes could see
Was the future burning bright right in front of me
But I can't stop looking back

Yeah, I wish I was a perfect picture of
Somebody who's never not good enough
I try to measure up but I mess it up
And I wish I wasn't like that

I wish I wasn't wishing anymore
Wish I could remember that nobody's keeping score
I'm tired of throwing pennies in a well
I gotta do something
Here goes nothin'

This speaks to me right now.  It's so where I'm at.  When I look back at the past 12 years it feels like a waste.  Turns out the ministry we've been working for has misled us and much of what they said, was not what they have done.  Scripture and Biblical teaching has been twisted to meet agendas.  I know I'm not the only person in life who has been jerked around and I need to move on but how do you?

God has been teaching me some new things and for this I am thankful.  Seek only God's Approval has always been my motto.  And God has used it in my life to keep me from seeking man's approval. Not to say, I haven't sought the approval of my friends or family but whenever I get too far off track in this area, God has brought me back to this motto.  It was taught at GFA but as I evaluate this quote in this season of my journey (I'm evaluating everything these days), I'm reminded that I already have God's approval!  He approves of me now and I can do nothing to earn more of his favor.  As the song says, "I try to measure up but I mess it up."  Measure up to what?  The bar keeps moving higher and higher.  Who is moving the bar?  God?

We move the bar depending on how we perceive the standard.  Sometimes it's not even intentional but others lifestyles cause us to move the bar.  Or the bar gets moved by how spiritual leaders/pastors encourage godliness.  Especially if that godliness is attained by performance or strictly following a set of rules that man has created.  I mean, I get following God's principles.  That's just the fundamentals of Christianity but what about all the spoken or unspoken rules that we burden each other with.  Some examples would be the simpler your lifestyle, the more godly you must be.  The more time you spend in prayer, the more spiritual and closer to God you must be.  The more you spend in evangelism or working so that the gospel can go out, then God will be really pleased with you and your rewards in heaven will be greater than others.  For women, it might be the way you dress.  The more modest and feminine you dress, then the purer you are.  And then we stand back and judge others based on our perceptions of godly principles.  But these principles aren't from God.  They look good on the outside and impress us and others but God has not asked this of us.

Micah 6:8 says "One thing I require of thee, that you walk justly, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.

Religion can make it much harder than it needs to be.  Christianity should be defined by the verse above.  So how do I move on?  Take that baby step and begin anew.  Changing my thinking would be a good place to start.  Realizing that I have got God's approval no matter what I do because I believe in the finished work of Christ!  Following God should not be hard.  His burdens are light.  Every morning His mercies are new!

I'm marching onto the beat of a brand new drum, yea, here I come, the future has begun, Day One!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Who is driving the infirmary bus?

This is my oldest daughter, Olivia, when she was 12.  She had just gotten her ears pierced in this picture for her birthday.  

Olivia has had health issues for what seems like her whole life.  But really aside from the fact that she was diagnosed with epilepsy at 4 years old, her chronic health issues seem to start in adolescence.  

She suffered from headaches and stomach issues pretty much off and on the whole time.  Even though she is smiling in these pictures, her life was consumed with not feeling well.  Throw a little teenage rebellion in there and those years were, well to say the least, difficult at best.

As her mom, I prayed desperately for wisdom and patience with her and for her.  

It was a time of surrendering control as a parent and mother to God because I really just had too.  What could I do?  Oh, don't get me wrong, I wasn't giving up or not doing my part.  I researched her ailments like crazy and revamped her diet to see if it would help, had her tested for allergies, took her to a chiropractor, and neurologist. But after I exhausted all I knew, I crumbled in a million pieces at the Lord's feet.  "Please show me Lord what to do next!"was what I prayed.  Most often God would grant me peace and patience to just be still and wait on Him.  Wait on Him to lead and me follow instead.

All of these people helped her in some way shape or form but no one seemed to be able to get to the root of her problems.  I learned more and more about health and lifestyle changes that helped prevent illness.  I studied alternative cures for colds, allergies, gut problems, and how chemicals can effect people through, cleaning agents, food additives and vaccines.

I feel like God has blessed us with a wealth of information through the web and so we rarely see general practitioners for colds or infections.  Using natural remedies we have cured our family of many issues that the normal person would deem a doctor visit necessary.

But Olivia's health issues seem to just evolve into more complex issues.  She would complain of feeling foggy brained or just plain ol' fatigued all the time. The chiropractor really helped her with her  daily headaches but she would still get headaches with fluorescent lighting in department stores or church.  She began wearing sunglasses inside places that had these lights to prevent a headache.  It actually worked even though she looked somewhat alarming with shades on inside! 

Her stomach still continued to give her problems and we discovered that gluten and dairy were not her only issues.  She is sensitive to all kind of pepper and chills, soy, all nuts, and beans if eaten too much can rip up her stomach.  She began having to evaluate every meal she ate.  Does this have gluten or maybe dairy in it?  Does it have any pepper in it?  Each year seemed to bring on new sensitivities and now she breaks out in hives when she eats certain fruits and can't breath when she eats corn.

I can't say I have always been so compassionate to her problems. I'd have to say that being in control and making things happen is my nature. I'm her mom and should look out for her as best I can, making sure she gets the kind of medical care necessary for her to live as normally as possible.  This is what I tell myself anyway and with that comes a sub-conscience stress.  If you live with the thoughts that you are the one who should be able to find her help so her problems can be fixed, you are just going to come up to a dead end because God has to be driving the infirmary bus. It is true that I'm her advocate and I will be forever.  But what if you don't know what else to do?  What if you have exhausted all options? What if you've tried your best only to be chasing a rabbit trail.  You turn to God is what you do.  That's what I do sometimes later that I'd like but eventually I get there.

 I'm ashamed to say, we've had many fights over her not feeling well.  Living with someone who feels bad more days than she doesn't wears me out.  I'm a "pick yourself up and move on" kind of person.  The phrase "buck up camper!" comes to mind often.  Olivia wears her emotions on her sleeve --kind of gal. You always know how she is feeling because her body language and facial expressions say it all.  She is my drama queen daughter.

So how do we get along?  Some days we just don't.  Some days I have to practice my compassionate mother role a little more than normal.  She is learning to persevere even when she feels like poop.  God is using it all.  I just wish we could learn these things another way.

Now Olivia is 19 and is having more problems than ever.  I guess you could say she has a movement disorder where she twitches or jerks the majority of the day. We've seen a neurologist and had an EEG where everything came back normal.  It was such a hard day because as we were going in to review her EEG results, she was counting on the doctor having a prescription for a medication that would make this all stop.  She is a certified EMT and wants to work.  She cannot even drive because it's not safe. Well, that day was hard because the neurologist did not offer us any hope.  He had no meds that would help her.

 I ask God why?  Some people would say that isn't respectful to ask him that question but I don't think He is offended.  I'm learning many things through all this so that's probably why.  I'm learning to long for heaven.  To hope in a perfect eternity not a perfect life here on earth.  This earth is cursed so there is sickness and disease.  Is Satan targeting my daughter?  Maybe, but God is allowing it.  We know that everything that God allows is for our good. It's for her refinement and mine is what I've been told.  It doesn't make it any easier to go through, though.  Sometimes what we know to be true doesn't match up with how we feel about it.

Recently Olivia has begun having seizures again.  She has been off meds for 7 years but now we hope for some to help her.  Her seizures are different than they used to be.  It's hard to believe that the neurologist found nothing in her brain that is amiss.  No reason at all for her to be having these symptoms.  He suggested we see a psychiatrist because he thinks it might all be stress related.  That's what doctors say when they don't know what else to say.  He told her to try and live as normal of a life as possible. How do you do that when your body is deteriorating little by little?

This experience with this neurologist has just added to the fact that I have no faith is conventional medicine.  Another dead end.  Another doctor who has no answers and doesn't bother looking at the rest of her body to see if something might be terribly wrong. That's the problem with specialists.  They only seem to have training in that specific area and nothing else.  Could she have an extreme vitamin deficiency that is effecting her brain activity.  They say B vitamins and the mineral magnesium are both vital to brain function.  But when I brought this up, he shook his head and told me there were no documented studies on this so it can't be.

We just finished sending Olivia to Colorado to see a doctor who is a trained M.D. but has invested his life into learning about functional medicine.  This term means that they believe the body all functions together.  That all your systems are related.  They believe in looking at all the bodily functions to see what is amiss and could be the cause of your symptoms.  So Olivia has been completing a series of tests along with lab work to see what they can find.  This doctor has called me twice in a week to discuss her case.  I was put on speaker phone for her 2 hour consult.  He discussed her issues with his colleagues this week and then called me to discuss a few things that they are suspicious of.  I am so thankful for doctors like this one!  I even have his e-mail and can ask questions or give him necessary information as I think of it.  This is the kind of care I'm looking for!

I'm also looking for a new neurologist since the Colorado doctor thinks we need a second opinion.  He believes there has to be a medication for what she is experiencing.  Neither one of us wants her on anti-seizure drugs but sometimes there is a place for it.  What has caused her to regress?  Something.  She hasn't just developed a "condition" where there is no cure.  How can you not have seizures for 7 years and then start having them out of the blue?  Our bodies are complex and that's why I'm so glad I've found a knowledgeable doctor who cares and will do the research it takes to try at least, to figure her out! We now have some hope.  It makes all the difference, really. 

Am I still trying to drive the infirmery bus?  Nope.  God is driving this one.  Dr. Mark actually asked me to pray for God to give him wisdom.  This makes me respect him all the more.  He is not promising me that he can cure Olivia.  He knows his place and that it is only the Lord who can give answers.  

Here is the website to the practice in Colorado in case you are at a dead end and have some seriously health issues. 


Kristin Lodi

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter thoughts

God's creations are just so amazingly beautiful.  This is a picture of a female cardinal that we took in our very own backyard!  When I watch the birds so busy gathering food, flying here and there, I'm reminded of how God provides for them and promises to provide for us even more.  Why worry about a thing, when God is for you.  Nothing changes when we worry anyway.  The birds bless me in this way as they remind me of how God is our provider and cares for us even more.

It's been so cold here this winter in Texas.  I know I can't complain in comparison to other states who have even colder weather but the grey skies and freezing temps really are hard to live with day after day.  I've always loved all the seasons including winter.  I love the beauty of the snow and ice.  I love the sound of rain and the feel of being warm in a cozy house.  But this winter the continuous days with no sunshine and the ability to sit outside, has gotten me down.  I know some people who do get depressed in winter and I can finally relate a little I think.

I realized how melancholy I felt all winter when the sun finally came out.  It was so refreshing and wonderful that I sat outside even though it was really too cold to.  Spring was suddenly in the air and all our ducks and chickens were happily running around playing and looking for food, taking other times during the day to nap in the sun.  

It kind of felt like this picture of Levi hiding under his umbrella in the gloomy rain. Just like me, hiding in my house trying to stay warm and be productive during the daylight hours.  

And then when the sun came out, the umbrella was lifted and a smile broke out!
This is my 3 year old duckling, Levi.  My oldest daughter took this picture of him and I love it!

These are a few of our real ducks basking in the sunshine.  They are about 11 weeks old now.  So big, they have grown!  Their eyes are on the side of their heads so when you talk to them and they look at you they cock their head in funny ways to see you like the way this white one is doing.  We have named her Snowwhite.

We live next door to a beautiful pond that our neighbor owns.  Now that our ducks are older we are starting to herd them down to the pond each day to swim since our little kiddy plastic pool is way to small for them.  

These two are mates.  They are the same breed and I think two of the prettiest ones.  We named the whiter one, Raquel and the browner one is named Harley.  

This is Prince.  He is the biggest duck we have.  He is a Pekin duck and because he is so big he has a big waddle too.  It's funny to see him lead the pack or sometimes bring up the rear because he is pretty slow to get where he wants to go.

We have learned that when they go to the pond they are actually getting food from it as well. They have a type of sieve in their bills that filters out the dirt and sand so they can eat the minnows and tadpoles and other small bugs.  They love the mud and and seem to be drinking it but that isn't really true.

They also have oil glands on their bodies that help their feathers repel water so they never seem like they are wet.  They can completely dunk their whole body under water but come up dry!  They love to bathe and flap their wings to fluff up their feathers after getting wet.  We have feathers all over our yard because of this.  They jump in my kiddy pool and get as wet as they can and then they flap so hard, you think they will just lift off and fly away at any time.  But these breeds of ducks can't fly.

We are really enjoying our two black ones.  They are called Cayugas and are a beautiful, silky black color. When the sunlight hits them certain ways their feathers look green or purple.  I named one of them Beautiful but I can't really tell them apart.

This is Raquel again.  She is my favorite. 

Harley again.  He is looking right at ya!

Here they are all in a row just like the ducks in books look like.  They stick together, let me tell you!  If one gets stuck or left behind, all the others will go back for it.  It's really endearing to watch them stay together even though they represent 4 different breeds. They have grown up together so each other is all they've known. There isn't an independent one out of the whole bunch.  I love this about them.  Chickens go off on their own and don't seem to care too much where each other is hanging out.  Ducks on the other hand are much more attached to each other.  When I take them to the pond and they all are playing around in the water, when one decides it's time get out, then they all finish up and get out too.  All of a sudden, all 8 of them will be done in the water and ready to follow the leader!

I love the way they look against the green pasture!  Every time I take them to the pond, I with I had my camera to capture the beauty.  They now know how to come home all by themselves after I take them down there.  This morning it was pretty cold so Micah and I stayed about 20 minutes.  They were having such a good time in the water and didn't look like they were going to be done anytime soon so we just left them down there.  They came home a few minutes later all together without loosing a single member of their family!

I'll end this post with another picture of my youngest duckling. 

Our own family is sort of like a duck family, I'm discovering.  We all need our time alone and sometimes go off with friends for a bit, but it's hard to stay away from each other for long.  We inevitably gather again to be together and enjoy each others company, sharing our days experiences.  Rich is our leader and where he leads, we follow.  Sometimes other members of our family voice their desires or concerns and unconsciously take a lead where we all follow to show our support.

Yes, I'm learning quite a bit about love and care by observing our ducks.  Gods creatures are indeed, beautiful in many ways.

Kristin Lodi