Our family with four little ones gathered to pray in the evenings. In cold weather, we burned logs in the brick fireplace. The kids gathered to sit around the living room on the furniture or down on the rug with their Bibles. We'd open by singing beautiful spiritual songs together. Each child then picked their own scripture and read it to the others.
After, we prayed spontaneously one by one. Monica, age 8, often prayed for her pony, Valentine. Brian, 7, and Emily, 6, prayed for the other animals and for friends. Even little Joanna, 3, prayed cute lines of heartfelt requests. Mommy and Daddy would follow with prayer and a blessing, laying hands on each child.
“May our Heavenly Father bless you in the wonder
and power of his love and give you a peaceful
sleep in the Name of Jesus. Amen.”
The little white farm house with the green trim was built into the side of a hill as was the small matching barn beside it. Below in the back, across the rippling brook, was the red chicken coup with a dove cot overhead, just down from the pond. Young pine trees filled the remaining acreage rising on a slope toward the horizon.
A wonderful blessing, God provided the seven acre mini-farm at the end of the flowery cliffs of the Boonville Gorge winding north from Delta Lake. The region was beautiful but not known for its employment. We found ourselves living simply by faith in God's country. The Black River Valley winds along between the edge of the Tug Hill Plateau and the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York's green farm country. This was the region of my wife Mary's birth and girlhood.
The country farm was perfect for our children.
Our daughter, Monica, cared for her Shetland pony named Valentine. The younger children helped Daddy raise chickens, roosters, doves in the dove cot, and rabbits, dozens and dozens of white rabbits.
Oh yes, there were the Grey Geese. The gander would lower his head and long neck and attack-charge from a distance of twenty feet every visitor that came across the yard to our country farm. But being a sanctified goose, he'd break off the charge at six feet distance and strut away honking his brag, leaving a reluctant bystander behind. Maybe God will provide such a place for us again in heavenly realms.
Life was very simple on our little farm. "God took our television away," Mary recalls. It quit. We had very little money for lack of employment. Jobs were sporadic. We had no medical insurance. It was an incredible period during which God took care of us. I worked low-cost wedding photography and business promotion to feed the family. Fortunately, our mortgage and expense costs were otherwise very low. The country electricity coop charged bills of only ten to sixteen dollars per month.
God's miracle care amazed us!
Bags of groceries suddenly showed up on our front doorsteps when we needed them. It happened over and over again. We never understood how God worked that so faithfully. Time and time again, when we were out of food and out of money, I'd open the front door and find five or six bags of groceries sitting on the front steps!
Mary and I would not tell anyone our need. But there would be the groceries when we needed them. God held his hand directly on our lives. We finally concluded some of those elderly Pentecostal ladies must have had a direct line to God. That is not as far-fetched as it sounds.
Occasionally, Mary was able to substitute teach in the town school, or she'd ride her bike two miles to the music store and give piano lessons. We planted an intensive garden, digging deep into the ground to mix natural fertilizers. With a great yield of vegetables, Mary used a pressure cooker to can. Of course, we raised roosters and rabbits for meat, as well. Our family farm flourished with prayer.
As I said, “It was a house of prayer in a place of healing.” And God was very active.