June 2016
Simple Times

Finding God in the Barnyard

You see it all the time on social media.

Someone’s kids had an awful wreck totaling their car, but walked away without a scratch. The overjoyed mama posts: "God is good all the time."

Someone else survives a massive heart attack and comes home from the hospital and is able to simply resume his normal life. He joyfully writes, "God is so good!"

There’s a big financial gain where there was once desolation, happiness follows months of sadness, joy springs forth.

There are slogans and memes on Facebook, encouraging words printed on tee shirts, even special vinyl letters cut out to go on your vehicle’s back windshield ....

And don’t get me wrong!

God has blessed me and this little farm exceedingly abundantly more than I would ever deserve! And I thank Him and praise Him daily for all those rich blessings!

But so many times when I see a Facebook post or even a Tweet, it makes me stop and think.

If the kids in the wreck were badly injured or even killed, does that make God bad?

If the friend or neighbor with the massive heart attack never even makes it to the ER before passing away, does that make God bad, too?

And what if you didn’t get that raise or your farm is foreclosed on no matter how hard you’ve worked and what you’ve tried to do, does that put God in the negative???

I’m no great theologian. I’m just a gray-haired, pudgy homesteader. But I do think too many times we are putting limits on God.

I wrote four years ago about how my heart changed as I was driving across the viaduct in Birmingham just before my husband Roy and I reached Kirklin Clinic and the nearby UAB Hospital.

We were going for an all-important PET scan to see if the months of chemotherapy and weeks of radiation had killed the cancer in his body.

I’d made the comment that if that test came back clear you might see me on the TV news that night from Birmingham, leaping and running across the sidewalks, praising God like an old-time country preacher!

But as we grew nearer our destination and nearer time for that all-important test, my heart was greatly conflicted.

There was no doubt in my mind that I would have indeed been shouting from the mountaintops if that test had come back showing the cancer was gone.

But the simple message I realized as I drove on toward that sandy-colored brick building was that I should be willing to praise God ALL the time, no matter what the tests results were because we had already been blessed beyond measure in our lives.

I didn’t say anything to Roy, but I was thoroughly chastised. And I haven’t forgotten that lesson.

It’s a religious debate that goes back as far as Job in older times. Why do good people suffer? Why do so many bad things happen in life? Why are some people miraculously healed when others who appear to have even more faith are allowed to suffer and die?

I guess living on a farm or homestead makes a lot of folks closer to life and death than if you simply live in the suburbs.

It seems, so far, most of 2016 has been a learning year for me. For somebody who doesn’t like to go to doctors because they’ll find something wrong with you and who puts up with lots of pain from a torn hamstring to a badly bruised hip without pain medications at home because of my allergies, I guess I was getting a little complacent.

But when I awoke in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, I was ready to see a doctor – ANY doctor – because I was in such pain.

A visit to the ER was followed by seeing a new specialist to treat kidney stones and other problems. And all seemed well again … then came March.

My youngest daughter and I got some sort of flu that lasted and lasted and lasted ... for more than two weeks I coughed until it seemed every part of my body was sore. There was no energy in spite of shots of steroids and more. I hadn’t felt this badly since I was a little girl and suffered through the old-time flu, measles and chickenpox!

Then there was another early morning trip to the ER, an ambulance ride to an out-of-county hospital and emergency surgery to remove a CLUMP of kidney stones! Yipes!

And while all this was going on, my little homestead kept right on moving forward as well.

Everyone knows my goats are my babies, no matter how old or how big they are.

  Johnny-goat was one of my beloved pets who passed away when I was sick with the flu.

Johnny-goat’s twin sister died the same week Roy died, nearly four years ago.

But Johnny-goat hung on until I was suffering from the flu. I prayed he wouldn’t make it through the night because I didn’t want to see him suffer. I’d already made up my mind to call the vet in the morning if he was still with us.

He mercifully did pass away. But my daughter and I both were barely getting basic essential chores done because we were so sick. How would we bury a goat (a Nubian/Boar cross) that was the size of a horse?

A neighbor came to the rescue with a backhoe-looking contraption, easing that worry from my mind.

Then it seemed a whole passel of the guineas were determined to commit suicide by standing in the highway! My sweet little birds that we’d hatched in the incubator last year, that I’d raised in a pasteboard box with a heat lamp, and that I loved for their wacky lifestyle AND the fact they were keeping the snakes away!

During one day at the height of my flu I had to walk out into the highway and retrieve THREE guineas who met their demise at three different times!

I did not miss a single day tending to my animals during the entire five to seven years my husband was sick. I often did chores by flashlight in the mornings and then again by flashlight at night when we’d come back from his treatments.

But as I was in the throes of the flu AND THEN had to have emergency surgery for the kidney stones, I realized things were completely out of my hands. (Especially after the original ambulance ride, folks thought I might even be having a heart attack myself!)

But you know what?

If I’d had a heart attack and never made it to the hospital, God would have still been good!

Even when I was truly suffering pain that was pretty intense, God was still good!

You can argue theologies, religion and doctrines from now until doomsday, but you’ll never find all the answers. I don’t care if you read all the holy books of the world in their original languages and have diplomas covering your walls.

Some would even argue that all the trials, tribulations and tragedies of this world prove there is no God.

But even though this simple homesteader does not have all the answers, I do know this.

This week, a small game/Easter egger hen hatched six chicks in our dog’s pen. Those little bright balls of fluff don’t know anything but that their mama is there taking care of them.

There’s Scripture about God spreading His love out and sheltering us as a hen protects her babies.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even understand all the questions.

But this I know: whether I am here on this Earth or gone on to the next, I am sheltered and protected with God’s love just like those tiny chicks.

We may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but, in the long run, it will not matter because traveling through the valley is the best way to reach the mountaintop!

God IS good, ALL the time!

Suzy Lowry Geno lives a simple life at Old Field Farm in Blount County. Find her on Facebook at Old Field Farm General Store.