This story is one of the most special stories of my life. It started several years ago, when I began wanting to switch from milking a Dexter cow to a Jersey cow.
My family was growing larger, and my interest in making cheeses and butters had only grown, so I simply wanted more milk.
It was around this time that I remember hearing a message at church, the summary of which was this: when you have decisions to make, ask God about them before making them; things will end up better if you’ll ask, and then listen for His answer. This was one of the first things that came to mind when I decided I wanted a new breed of dairy cow. So I prayed. I asked the Lord if it would be right for me to pursue getting a new dairy cow, and if so, to please help me find the best one for our family’s needs.
I sincerely wanted the Lord’s direction on this, but it was also mixed with excitement at the possibility of actually getting a Jersey. I wanted one SOOOOO bad!! So there were many, many times I would find myself shopping around online, looking to see what was available. As you can imagine, Jersey cows aren’t exactly an overly-available product. You pair that with the fact that I had a handful of personal criteria I was looking for, and you can understand why it was few and far between that I would find a cow that got my attention! You can also understand why, when I would find one that seemed to be perfect, my heart would flutter and I would have to do my best to keep from telling the family, “Drop everything and load up in the van, we’re going to get a cow today!” On these days especially, I would put down the phone or the laptop, go to my room, and pray. “Lord is this a cow that would be ok for me to buy?” And then I would spend the next 10 minutes making sure He knew all the reasons I thought it was perfect, and how thankful I would be if He made me feel like it was ok to move forward. I mean, I would really give it everything I had, because I just wanted it so bad I could taste it! But the feeling was always the same. “Not this one.” It was so disheartening. I would go back to the computer, and look at the pictures again, and read everything all over again, and wish and wonder. Of course the doubt would come in. Things like, “Am I doing this to myself? I mean, I’m wanting good things; things that I believe the Lord is pleased with. My intentions are sincere. The Lord probably doesn’t care what cow I have, right? I mean, it’s a cow…right?” This is how it went for weeks, which turned into months, which turned into over a year.
I remember after about a year, I found a cow that seemed perfect. I talked to the owner, and we shared an immediate connection that made us both feel excitement over the possible purchase of this cow. This time, after talking to her and discussing payment options, I prayed a quick prayer, gave it about 3 seconds worth of wait time for an answer, and rushed out to put a check in the mailbox, messaging her that I was sending her the money. The excitement consumed me from the time we began talking until after I got back from the mailbox. I sat down on the couch and that’s when it hit me hard. “Not this one.” It was undeniable, and I knew it. Honestly, I knew it when I prayed, which is why I wouldn’t listen afterwards. I don’t know what I thought; maybe rushing through it all would somehow eliminate knowing that I shouldn’t have done it in the first place? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I knew God said ‘no.’
You wanna talk about a hard walk to make! Back to the mailbox to take the check out. Oh, and the phone call to explain. I’m sure the woman thought I was crazy. She did her best to convince me that it probably was God’s will for us to come across each other and for me to be the new owner of her beloved cow. And everything she was saying, I had already processed in my own mind, but there was no denying that I knew what God was telling me. I couldn’t buy her cow.
That was a changing point for me; I decided I was done looking for cows. I felt it in my heart, too, after that. See, it was around this time that the Lord laid it on my heart that He was going to provide me with my cow. And I had finally given in to that. I remember telling Steven, “I don’t know when, or what breed, or how old, or from what place she will be. But I’m positive that whatever He gives me, it will be perfect for us.” Steven reacted how any good husband would: he said, “Babe, God has given us the money to afford you a cow. He stopped creating animals on day 6. Please, just get you a cow.” With a laugh and a shake of the head, I said “I can’t babe. I’ve gotta wait.”
So more time passed, and my heart became content to wait. And in that time, I also became confident in what I knew the Lord had let me know: He was going to give me a cow. One night, Steven and I were in the living room talking, and somehow the topic of a milk cow came up. He wanted me to have one because he knew how much I wanted to have one. He urged me to look, not because he didn’t believe in waiting on the Lord, but because he felt sure that the Lord wouldn’t care for me to just buy one! I remember telling him, “Babe, I truly know the Lord is going to give me a cow. I sincerely wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up tomorrow, and there was a cow standing next to the gate waiting to be let in the field. I don’t know how it will get here. I don’t know if the Lord is going to just make it appear, or if it will come wandering through the woods, but I’m telling you, He’s going to give us a cow.” He could tell there was no dissuading me. He patted my hand and said, “Ok.”
The next day, I got a knock on my door. It was two people that I didn’t know, a husband and a wife. I had met them once before about a year prior, but in that moment, I had totally forgot about that. As far as I knew at the time, this was our first meeting. They asked if I had a second to talk. “Of course,” I said, as I stepped out my front door.
“I know this is strange, but we heard from a friend of ours that you milk cows. We are going on a 3 week vacation, and we have a handful of Jersey cows that we milk every day. We’ve been able to find a place for all but one of our cows to be taken care of. I don’t know if you’d be able to, or even interested, but we were wondering if we could bring our cow to you to keep and milk while we’re gone?”
My heart swelled. I thought, “Could this be the cow?? My cow??!”
“Yes!” I said, without hesitation…probably a little louder than they thought was normal. “I would love to!”
“Great!” They said, with the sound of relief in their voices. We talked for maybe another 5 minutes about the details of getting the cow over here, and then they left.
I have tears in my eyes even now, just remembering. I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough. I called Steven, and as soon as he picked up the phone, I said, “You’re not going to believe this…” and I told him everything. He was amazed.
Two days later Carmel, was in my field and I kept her that whole month. I milked her twice a day, and loved every minute of it. I did my best not to get caught up in thinking she may actually be ‘my cow,’ because the people, in all likelihood, would come back, say “Thank you very much,” and take her back. I mean, that would be totally normal.
The day after they returned home from their vacation, they called to see if they could come by that afternoon. They showed up, but this time, it wasn’t just the husband and wife. They brought their 5 children with them. Our families were getting to meet
for the first time. Their youngest played with my children as Steven and I got to hear all about their vacation. It was as though we were all well-acquainted friends. We all talked for probably 45 minutes.
As the conversation was coming to a close, Brian (the dad) said, “There’s something we need to tell you. Every single day of our vacation, we would pray as a family, and we prayed for your family. Throughout the vacation, and during our prayer times, God made it extremely clear to us over and over again that we are to give Carmel to you. We can’t take her back.”
I immediately started crying. They had no idea why. Steven then began to tell them about the year and a half long prayer that I had made before the Lord, and everything that journey had entailed. Before long, we were all crying.
But guess what. That’s not the end of the story. I thought it was at the time. And so did everyone else. But there was so much more…
After they got home from their vacation, the Maxwells became very dear friends of ours. We shared many meals together, many evenings sitting on each other’s porches, many random get togethers just to hang out. And Carmel became a very special milk cow to me. I milked her daily, and so many times, I would just be in awe that I was looking at, petting, and loving a gift promised to me from the Lord. It never ceased to amaze me, and leave me grateful.
And then, a little more than a year later, Carmel died. It was random and unexpected and crushing. I was devastated. I even began thinking I must have done something to upset the Lord. I mean, I just couldn’t make sense of it! Out of all the cows that I had, why her??!
The Lord quickly helped me know that I wasn’t being ‘punished.’ But I still just didn’t understand. And I wouldn’t understand for about a month or so, until one day, I was talking with a friend and telling her how the Lord had given me a cow. And then, as clear as anything the Lord had ever laid on my heart, I gained understanding, and it gave me such joy and gratitude towards the Lord.
“You know what? I just realized something,” I told her. “The Lord had me wait, not because of the cow. It wasn’t about giving me a high cream content or the best milk or anything like that at all! None of that was what He had in mind; it was about so much more than that!”
See, about a month before meeting Brian and Jeron, Steven had told me, “You know, I love everything about where the Lord has brought us and our family. I’m thankful for the decisions He’s led us to make, everything from homeschooling, to having a large family, to going to church. I just wish we had someone that we could go to for advice when we need it; people to look to as an example, who have the same values and lifestyle as us. I just wish we knew someone who’s done what we’re doing, that was maybe 10 years down the road. That would be so great.”
Well, as it turns out, that’s exactly what the Maxwells are. Their 5 kids are all around 10 years older than ours, and they are a homeschooling, Jesus-loving, church-going family that value all the same things we do. They are incredibly close-knit, they work hard, and they are what we would be proud to be in 10 years! Not only that, but one night while we were hanging out, they told us that a prayer of theirs had been that the Lord would give them some close family friends as well, and they had found it in us! That’s why it was so important to the Lord for me to wait! It wasn’t about the cow, it was about the more significant desires of all of our hearts! The cow was just the means for us to meet. He had answered an even deeper need of mine, and everyone else too!!
It wasn’t long before I found another Jersey cow that I felt totally free to buy, and the Lord provided us with the money to buy her. So today, I find myself with an incredible group of people that have become some of my dearest friends. I have wonderful examples for all of my children, and I have people to look to when I am faced with decisions in the future. Oh, and on top of all that, I have a beautiful Jersey cow that provides more than enough milk for me and my family. The Lord is truly amazing and I love him so much! I encourage you to be confident that if the Lord gives you direction, listening will leave you fuller, happier, and all the more grateful!