Welcome to Fodderstack Farm… a rustic retreat in the North Carolina mountains. A place where you can connect with family, friends, yourself and, most importantly, God, in a unique way. The intention of the book is that the reader will go deeper in their understanding of the presence of our Lord through all the ways he loves us as expressed in his creation and the life of the farm. Come and be transported there and share these blessings via Terri Kraus’ beautiful devotions and Renee Baker’s amazing gift of photography. It’s a grace to welcome Terri to the farm’s front porch today…
In all the seasons of the year guests of the Fodderstack Farm can enjoy the animals and the mountains, the charm and serenity the farm offers, and exploring the surrounding area, including the stunning Biltmore Estate, where America’s largest home built by the Vanderbilts sits amidst 8,000 lovely acres surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It is an area where nature shouts of the glory of God and His astounding creativity. Fodderstack Farm is a place of renewal, restoration and inspiration, and where communication with God is delightfully different from everyday life.
After the ducks are put away for the night on the farm, it’s time to gather the hens into their house, fondly called “The Chicken Chapel.”
It’s a cozy structure, complete with gold-framed vintage paintings hanging on the rustic walls and several levels of comfy straw-lined roosting shelves.
The hens are beautiful, and each have vibrantly colored feathers. There is a definite pecking order among the brood, evidenced by the order in which they go into the coop. The one at the top of the pecking order gets her preferred nest; the higher up one roosts, the higher her status, sometimes based on when she arrived in the brood.
The others follow suit based on their position in the hen hierarchy, and when they’ve all found their spot, Drew, the owner, gives them his nightly “blessing”— just as he does with the ducks.
He looks over the brood, making sure his hens are all accounted for. “You’re all very special hens, you know,” he says with tenderness.
“Do you know why?” he asks. “Because you each have a name.”
And he proceeds to say goodnight to each hen: “Goodnight, Little Chicken. Goodnight, Miss Prissy. Goodnight, Grace. Sleep tight, Frankie, Goose, Stripey. Sweet dreams, Winona, Dolly, Smokie.” He knows them all by the color and pattern of their feathers. They are his hens.
“God knows you. He sees you. He views you as unique and valuable.”
Then he turns out the light and closes the door, the brood safely inside until morning.
Watching this lovely ritual, one can’t help thinking about how God views us.
It’s easy to think negative thoughts about ourselves.
The enemy would love to convince us we are nobodies, that we are nothing special, unimportant, easy to overlook. After all, we each are well aware our personal faults, inadequacies and missteps, and so often beat ourselves up for them, imagining that God can have no use for us when we are such failures.
In the depths of our hearts, we know how far we fall short of His standards of holiness.
We look about and see others who are more gifted, better-looking, more dynamic, more spiritual and other coveted things we don’t see in ourselves.
We allow comparison to steal our joy.
“How comforting to know that even in our weaknesses and imperfections, God cherishes us for who we are, and has a unique purpose for each of us.”
We let unfounded criticism we’ve received get under our skin, or when being passed over for a promotion, our gifts and abilities ignored, our contributions not appreciated.
These become the truth we believe about ourselves.
But that is not the truth.
God knows you. He sees you. He views you as unique and valuable.
Musician Ricardo Sanchez writes, “The devil knows your name, but calls you by your sin. God knows your sin, but calls you by your name.”
How comforting to know that even in our weaknesses and imperfections, God cherishes us for who we are, and has a unique purpose for each of us.
This is His unconditional love for His own.
Tonight, when you are drifting off to sleep, imagine God seeing you as His beloved, calling you by name and speaking a goodnight blessing over you.
Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1b
Terri Kraus is the author of three published novels—The Project Restoration series—and has coauthored ten published novels with her husband, Jim. A graduate of the University of Illinois School of Art and Design, she began her writing career after 20 years as a professional interior designer and college teacher.
People today seem to have lost an intimate connection with God’s creation in their busy lives. Farmhouse Retreat invites you to deeply experience the beauty of farm life. You will clearly see God’s glory reflected in these devotions, beckoning you to retreat to this idyllic place. Immerse yourself in the spectacular photography of Renee Baker and be restored in mind and spirit.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their partnership in today’s devotion ]