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A Very Worthwhile Project

28 Jul

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

A Very Worthwhile Project

                For years here, we worked with our neighbors in putting up our high-moisture corn to feed to our cattle.  They had a combine and two good-sized grain trucks, and I had a tractor and roller mill that we used to fill our corn silo with.  Well, that worked great for many years, but in time they got out of farming and sold their equipment.  I was blessed to get a different neighbor after that to combine my corn, but we had one big problem; he didn’t have grain trucks to haul my corn in from the fields.  He had large semis to haul grain with, but they just wouldn’t work at my building site – they were just too big.

                So, we started to look for two power gravity boxes to buy.  Since high-moisture doesn’t flow very easy, we wanted power gravity boxes.  This type of box has an apron chain in the bottom that is driven by the tractor, thus saving a lot of hard work shoveling a lot of corn. 

                We started to pray that we could get a couple of good ones at a reasonable price, and then my wife put into the prayer, “Close by”.  We started to look in the newspapers and online for them, but we couldn’t find any close by, and the ones we did find had a higher price on than we wanted to pay.  But, then I ended up talking to my farm insurance agent about my farm insurance, and I asked him if he knew where there were some.  He told me his brother had two that he wasn’t using anymore. 

                I called up Mike, and he told me he had two sitting in the back of his shed that he hadn’t used in several years, since he had sold his cows.  He said he was thinking about selling them and that we could come and look at them.  Well, we went and looked at them, and I have to give Mike full credit, he was totally honest with us on them.  In this world today, a lot of people are not honest or truthful when they’re trying to sell something, but Mike was.  That means a lot to me and more importantly to God.

                Mike told us that a number of years before, early one morning when there was a heavy frost out, they were bringing them down a hill loaded.  With the boxes being loaded heavily, and the frost on the ground, the boxes got away from them and ended up tipping over.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the boxes along with their running gears sustained a lot of damage. 

                The insurance company totaled them out; Mike bought them back from the insurance company. With extra iron and some old running gears that he had around his farm, he did a remarkable job fixing them back up.  We could see that they could use some more work done on them, which Mike acknowledged.  I asked Mike what he wanted for them and he told us.  We thought it was a very fair price and agreed to it.  Mike told us that he could fix them up better and ask more for them.  I told him that that was all right, we could fix them up and save the money.  With that we all broke out laughing. 

                Mike was happy to see them stay in the area on a small dairy farm where he could see them being used.  We wrote Mike out a check, hooked them behind the pickup and pulled them the six miles home.  God had answered our prayer to find two of them at a good price close to home.  Once again, we saw how God delights in answering our prayers.  He is so good.

                We got them home and spent the next week working on them.  We found extra stuff on them that needed fixing, but that can be expected when you buy older equipment.  From fixing on the boxes, the apron chains, the running gears, and the wheel bearings, we put in a full week of work.  It was a great challenge and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was very rewarding bringing them back into excellent working condition.  And work they did with the new crop of corn.              

                 We’re very thankful Mike sold them to us, and I must say that the price was right.  It was very enjoyable bringing in big loads of golden corn and unloading them.  What was more enjoyable than that though, was working on them as a family.  There is something about doing projects together as a family and seeing the rewards of it.  

                In America today, families are so divided up, running in so many different directions.  God made families to be together.  There is something about working together and seeing the fruit of your work.  It’s also a great way to teach your children so many things.  I wonder if all parents would work together with their children, and teach them in a loving Christian environment, if it would keep a lot of young people away from drugs, alcohol, crime and so many other things, bad things.  Actually, I know it would, for the Bible says in Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  What more can I say, my kids greatly enjoyed working on those boxes with me and I enjoyed it too.  It was very profitable for all of us in more ways than one. 

One of our power boxes unloading at the roller mill.

Riding The Munitions Train

3 Dec

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

Riding The Munitions Train

                My dad, Earl Heck, was born and raised on a small farm in Wisconsin.  There, his parents taught him hard work and responsibility.  As a boy, things were hard, since the country was in the Great Depression.  The family worked very hard to put food on the table, put clothes on their backs, wood in the stove and to pay the bills.  But they were greatly blessed, since they lived in America, the land of freedom, a nation under God.

                WWII came and my dad was on the young side to go to war, however, as the war was getting close to being over, my dad got put on the short list of having to report at a moment’s notice.  Well, the war ended, and he didn’t have to report. 

                But, then came the Korean War, and he got drafted by the army.  He went through boot camp, and while there, the leadership found out that he was very good at mechanics.  So, after boot camp, they sent him to another camp for several weeks to teach him mechanics.  They put him in a group of men called the Engineering Maintenance Aviation Company (EMAC).  Once they got their time in there, they shipped them out to Korea. 

                And what can I say, if he would have landed on the moon, it wouldn’t have been as shocking as Korea.  What did he find there you ask?  A land totally bombed out.  So many people half starving to death.  So many people who only had a few rags for clothing.  And orphans by the thousands.  What he had growing up in the Great Depression was exceedingly great compared to what these people had.  He couldn’t even find one nice standing tree in the area where he was stationed.

                He was stationed at K 13.  That is Korea Airstrip number 13.  At that time it was the largest airstrip in the world, he said.  It was used 100% for our aircraft for fighting the war.  When the war was raging, the jet fighters would be taking off literally all day and all night. 

                It took a lot of earth-moving equipment to keep the airstrip up and running.  And equipment they had, acres and acres of it.  All left over from WWII in the Pacific.  When the Korean War broke out, our government gathered up all that left over equipment and moved it to Korea. 

                The job of the EMAC was to keep this equipment up and running so that they could continually keep the airstrip in excellent shape for the planes.  And they did this very well.  How?  By taking parts off of the acres and acres of junked out equipment left over from WWII. 

                But, they got a couple of other jobs once-in-a-while that they didn’t like.  When the fighting got really bad, the planes would fly around the clock.  So many of the planes then would come in shot up badly, and sometimes the pilots would too.  At these times the airplane mechanics couldn’t keep up with fixing the planes.  The orders were, “Get those planes back in the air as fast as possible.”  At those times they would pull the EMAC off of the earth-moving equipment and onto the planes. 

                Their orders: “Get those planes back in the air as fast as possible.”  So they would fix them up as fast as they could, so that they would fly.  They were not fixed as good as they should have been, but they got them so they would fly, and they hoped the pilots would make it back in them alive.  But, they had no choice; the men fighting on the ground at the front lines desperately needed them for support.  It was literally a matter of life and death for so many men.

                The other job the EMAC got sometimes was to ride guard on the munitions trains running up to the front lines to supply our troops with ammunition.  They would send the trains up in the black of night so they wouldn’t be easy for the enemy to spot and attack.  On the back of the railroad cars they would have a platform with a machine gun mounted on it.  They would put one or two men on each machine gun to protect the train. 

                Talk about being a moving target.  And if your car load of ammunition gets hit, it’ll blow sky high and you along with it.  Fortunately, the train never got attacked when my Dad was riding guard on it.  And it was cold in the wintertime riding those trains.  I remember my Dad saying a number of times that that was the coldest he ever got in his whole life. 

                My Dad was blessed; he came home from the war alive, in good health.  He farmed the rest of his life living to an old age.  Others came back wounded and hurt.  Many others didn’t make it back alive; they paid the ultimate price.  They paid the price to keep other people free. 

                We in our nation today, owe a great debt of gratitude to all of those who have served our country so well.  We should never take for granted the great blessings of liberty and freedom that we have in America.  They have been bought with a great price.  God has blessed us greatly, may we never forget this, and may we live our lives wisely.  We owe so much to so many.

Chasing The Big Black Bear

3 Dec

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

Chasing The Big, Black Bear

                Sometimes in life, and especially in farming, the most unusual things happen.  Things you would never dream of or predict, but they happen anyway. They have a way of making life much more interesting and to some degree, entertaining.

                Such is what happened here a while back.  It started out as a normal hay-making day.  We did our morning cattle chores and then Joanne and the kids went to town on some business.   I went out to rake my long upper marsh hayfield so I could bale it later in the day.  It was a hot, sunny day, without a cloud in the sky, perfect for baling dry hay for our cows to eat in the coming cold, snowy months ahead.  I had raked a few swaths around the outside of the field and was on the lower end of it, when the unexpected happened.  A great big, black bear came out of the woods into the swath of hay I was raking about thirty yards in front of my tractor.  He didn’t seem to know I was there, until I was just yards away from him with my tractor.

                Now, if I would’ve been out there on foot, I would have been scared of him, but on the tractor, I knew I was perfectly safe.  As I got close to him, he took off running down the swaths of hay in front of my tractor.  I knew if he kept running in that direction, when he got to the end of the field, he very well could cut across my other fields and end up in the small woods next to my building site where my dairy cattle are.  That would not be a good thing, because sometimes big bears kill cattle.  I knew my family was safe because they had gone to town, but I was concerned about my cattle. 

                So, I speeded my tractor up to almost full throttle, raking hay faster than I ever had before in my life.  I hoped by chasing him hard, he would go back into the big woods on my field’s edge.  But, it didn’t work that way.  He kept running in front of my tractor the full length of the field.  It was a hot day, and he was giving it his all to stay in front of my tractor.  We finally got to the end of the field and Mr. Bear turned and headed towards my building site.  He did exactly what I didn’t want him to do. 

                Well, I was at the end of my field, so I couldn’t chase him anymore.  As I watched him, he slowed down considerably as he crossed my other fields and entered the little woods by my buildings.  All that I could do then was pray to God, that He would keep our animals all safe from the bear.

                I kept raking my field for the next couple of hours, and was almost done when what do you expect happened?  Mr. Bear comes out of my little woods and heads back across my fields into my hayfield again.  This time though, he gets into the upper end of it when I’m up there raking heading to the lower end.  Again, he gets right in front of my tractor without realizing it, until I’m just yards away from him.  I wonder if the super hot day was affecting him some.  Well, he takes off running in front of my tractor for nearly the full length of the field.  And yes, I had my old tractor at nearly full throttle as I chased him the length of my field.  As we got close to the other end, he finally cut across the end of the field and went crashing into the woods.  He was all done in; he had had enough of being chased twice in one day by a tractor across the length of that field. 

                Well, what can I say?  I’ve never chased him across my field since, and I’ve never had him up here by my building site since either.  God answered my prayer that day and kept all our cattle safe in His care.  I think Mr. Bear learned that he didn’t want to get chased by that tractor and rake anymore.  At least I hope he did. 

                By chasing him with my tractor, I tried to guide him to where he should’ve gone.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.  God does the same thing with us.  Through His Holy Spirit and circumstances, He tries to guide and direct our lives.  We are very wise when we are sensitive to Him and follow Him.  Otherwise, things will not go so well for us, and we will live to regret it.  I know that’s certainly been true in my own life at times. 

                As for Mr. Bear, once he got rested up, I’m sure he was alright, although, he might have had nightmares about being chased by a tractor and hay rake after that.

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

25 Jun

By:  Tom Heck

What A Way To Go

                There are many, many voices crying out in our world today telling us which way we should go.  These voices come from our schools, universities, governments, news sources as well as many other places.  Who are we to listen to?  Who’s right?  One thing is for sure, when we close our eyes in death, we will want to have lived our lives right, so that we can look forward to a blessed eternity with God.

                My great-grandfather, John P. Elbert, knew the right way and lived it all his life.  His Bible was his daily guide, and he walked in fellowship with God daily.  And what a legacy he left, especially on his dying day. 

                John Elbert was born in southern Wis. on Feb. 23rd, 1860.  Being born and raised on a farm; farming was his life’s work.  As a young man, he married Emilie Opperman, and together they raised seven children.  They had a godly home and taught their children to work on the farm alongside of them.  And work they had to, because as John got older he was very limited in what he could do.  You see, John was born with a bad heart condition.  As he got older and older his heart kept getting worse.  So Emilie and the children all pitched in to keep the farm going and to put food on the table. 

                But John never neglected his responsibilities as a husband and father.  He was a man of the Word and prayer.  In his later years he couldn’t do much farm work, but he spent a lot of time in prayer and the Word.  John was a man who heard from God.  His wife and seven children all testified to this.  There were times when John would tell his family that God told him of something that was going to happen in the future.  And it always happened exactly as he said.  When he told them something like that, they never doubted him.

                And so it was on the morning of May 16th, 1914.  John, having been bed ridden for some time already, waited for his family to get in the house for breakfast after milking the cows.  Once they got into the house, he called them around his bedside and told them, “The Lord told me that I’m going home to be with Him today.  I want you to eat breakfast, and go back out and finish up the chores you need to do.  Then this afternoon, I want you all to gather around me, and I want to speak to each of you individually and pray for you.”  They did exactly what he told them to do, with no doubts whatsoever about what he said.  They knew by the life he had lived that he was a real man of God.

                Afternoon came, and they all gathered around his bed.  He spoke to, prayed for, and blessed each of his family members.  When he was all done, he said, “I’m going home now.”  With that he shut his eyes and was gone.  What a blessed way to go!  What a legacy he left.

                As a young child, John came to Jesus and followed Him the rest of his life.  When it was time to step over into eternity, John was fully ready to do so.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6.  When you know Jesus as John did, then you’re ready to meet God face to face. 

                Some of us have lived a much more sinful life than what John did, I certainly did, but there’s room at the foot of the cross for all of us.  We must come there with godly sorrow and true repentance, and give ourselves fully to Jesus.  If we do, Jesus will take the heavy burden of sin that we carry, and we won’t have to carry it anymore.  Furthermore, we can walk with God daily in fellowship with Him.  I call it, ‘walking under an open heaven’.  It’s the most wonderful thing in all the world.  I know that for a fact.

Changing With The Times

6 Apr

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

Changing With The Times

                My grandfather, George A. Elbert, was born in 1888 on a small farm in Wisconsin.  Growing up and then as an adult he farmed most of his life using horses.  He was a very gentle and loving man and took excellent care of all his animals.  He had a fair number of horses that he used to do all the field work with.  He farmed that way for many years and enjoyed it. 

                And then World War II came and farmers were asked to produce all the food that they could to help win the war.  George, along with his family did all they could to help the war effort.  He realized during those years though, that if he had one or two tractors it would make farming so much easier, and he could produce a lot more milk and meat.  But with the war on, and everything going to the war effort, there weren’t any tractors to buy.

                Thank the Lord, the war finally came to an end, and many factories were converted over to producing agricultural equipment.  The equipment rolled out of the factories at an astounding rate, and that included tractors. 

                When the local implement shop got in a number of Farmall H’s on the railroad, it didn’t take George long to get into town and buy one.  He was in his late fifties by now, but his age wasn’t going to stop him from investing in this new thing.  He was willing to change with the times.

                It wasn’t long after this that the horses started going down the road.  With a number of empty horse stalls in the barn now, the next natural thing to do was to put dairy cows in them and produce more food. 

                Things continued to go well and a couple years later he was able to buy 80 acres of land next to his farm that he desperately needed for crops for his livestock.  And then Grandpa really stepped up big, he went back to the implement dealership and bought a big, brand new, Farmall M tractor. 

                After that, all the remaining horses went down the road.  The barn in time filled up with cows and calves, and farming became so much more productive and profitable.  Grandpa didn’t miss having to take care of the horses every day.  He so liked his two red tractors that he did so much work with.

                Grandpa was willing to learn and change with the times.  But one thing never changed for him, and that was his love, devotion and obedience to God.  Grandpa never questioned or doubted the Bible.  God’s word was final, never changing, for God never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. 

                Unfortunately today many people, including politicians, judges and even many preachers think they can twist and change God’s Word to satisfy their own sinful selves.  These people will be in for a terrible shock when they stand before God someday at the Great Judgment. 

                In our world today there is so much change going on, and we must be willing to change with it when it is right to do so.  But we must never go against God and His ways, for that will led to death and destruction.  My grandfather knew this and was blessed in it.  We will be too if we follow his example.

I Don’t Want To Go To Bed

13 Feb

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

I Don’t Want To Go To Bed

                Christmas is a very special time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. It’s a time of fellowship and love, and the giving of gifts one to another. It’s also a time when children look excitedly at opening all the brightly wrapped presents under the Christmas tree.

I remember one Christmas in particular when we had sat down and read the beautiful account of Jesus’ birth out of Luke chapter two. If it wasn’t in the Bible it would be almost impossible to believe that God would come like He did to save us sinners. What Love!

Joanne prepared an exceptional Christmas dinner and we ate and ate. And as we ate, we fellowshipped around all that the Lord had done for us. It is so good to count our many blessings and name them one by one. Even when we have had hard or difficult times, it’s still amazing to look back and see how good God has been to us. Even this year with COVID-19 and all the unrest in this country and around the world, we have so much to be thankful for.

After the table was all cleared, and our wonderful cook, Joanne, was thanked for all the work and love she put into the special meal, we headed into the living room. There our Christmas tree, which we had cut earlier out of our own woods, was beautifully decorated with lots of presents underneath it.

Our young children’s eyes were all sparkling and they had big joyous smiles on their faces as they eagerly awaited opening the presents. Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year of giving and receiving gifts. And it seems children make it much more special. Well, our children received a number of gifts, of which some were new toys to play with, along with a number of new tools. Our children really liked to get new tools that they could use to help me fix things with on the farm here.

Well, after a while it was time to go out and do the evening chores: milking the cows, feeding the calves and giving the cows some fresh hay to munch on overnight. Then it was quickly into the house for the children to play with all their new toys and tools.

As it got way late, bedtime, something totally unexpected happened. Catherine started crying. We were startled and asked her what was wrong. Her reply, “I’m so tired, I just can’t stay awake, but I don’t want to go to bed, I just want to keep playing with all my new toys.” With that, we as parents had to smile and laugh. We told her it was bedtime and that tomorrow she could play with her toys a lot more. What a wonderful Christmas Day we had and it continued for many days after.

It’s sad that in this world today, so many people don’t know the real meaning of Christmas. To be politically correct it’s, “Happy Holidays”, or something else. But when you remove Jesus from Christmas, it’s very empty. That’s why there are so many suicides and so much depression after Christmas. And there’s so very little love in so many families today. But when you have Jesus you have love, joy and peace. Whether you have a Christmas tree with presents or not, if you have Jesus, you have everything. If you want to have a wonderful Christmas this year with all the unrest in the world, invite Jesus into your heart and home. He is what Christmas is all about. And you can go to bed Christmas Day night and every night thereafter with The Prince of Peace in your heart.

From our family to yours, have a blessed, Christ-filled Christmas.

It’ll Cost You

22 Jan

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By:  Tom Heck

It’ll Cost You

                It was the middle of the summer, and the day dawned bright and sunny.  A perfect hay-making day.  We were thankful since we had a large field of hay cut to chop into the silo that afternoon.  The weather forecasters were predicting heavy rain for the coming night, so we along with a lot of other farmers were anxious to get the hay off.

We were able to start chopping shortly after noon that day; I had chopped just two rounds off the field when I noticed a silver-colored pickup driving down my field road towards me.  I wondered who that could be and what they wanted.  I had one thing on my mind and that was getting my beautiful hay off before the heavy rain was due to come the coming night.  Needless to say, other farmers were thinking just like I was.  As the pickup got closer, I saw it was my neighbor, Harley, who farmed a couple miles down the road from me.

Harley had an urgent request, could I come and bale his small field of hay.  He had had another farmer lined up to bale it, but that farmer had too much of his own to bale, so there was no way that he could make it.  Harley was getting out of crop farming and had just sold me his baler a couple of months before.

I looked over my own hayfield and told Harley that I had to get mine chopped and then I would try to get to his place and bale his hay.  I told him that it wouldn’t be before 5 o’clock though.  He said that if I didn’t get there till 6 or 7 that would be fine, he would go back home and rake his hay.

As he was turning to leave, I said to him, “It’ll cost you.”  He quickly turned back around with a real serious look on his face.  I then asked him, “Do you have a couple packages of frozen bluegills in the freezer?”  He broke into a big smile and replied that he did.  Now, Harley is an excellent fisherman and catches a lot of fish, so I knew I wasn’t asking too much.  Nothing beats bluegills fried in butter; they’re just delicious!

Well, we kept moving real fast, and got our hay off; then we hooked the baler up to the tractor and I got down to Harley’s at ten minutes to five.  We had done better than what I thought possible.  Harley was ready and waiting for me. I went right to baling and had his small field off in less than an hour.  There was an excellent crop on it and Harley was sure relieved to have it off.  As soon as I got done, he took me to the house and pulled two packages of bluegills out of the freezer.  With that I headed home.  And that night it poured, but we were sure happy, because we had our hay all off.  For supper the next day we had bluegills, compliments of Harley.

A lot of people think they can live their lives just for self; if they hurt others it’s no big deal to them as long as they profit by it.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  It will cost them.  The Bible tells us that there is a Judgment Day coming for everyone, where we will each give an accounting for all that we have done.  For those who have not followed the Lord and His ways, it will cost them dearly.  But for the righteous, for those who have followed their Lord, it will be an eternity with Him beyond their best dreams.  I learned a long time ago that the best, most rewarding life, is one fully given to Jesus.

That’s Stupid

6 Jan

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

That’s Stupid

                Sometimes farm kids look at things totally different than other people do. Such is the case in what happened many years ago, in my Sunday school classroom, when I was a small child. My Sunday school teacher, who was a nice lady, who lived in town, opened the class on this particular day by reading the portion of Scripture from Luke 12:16-21, “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

I sat there stunned as my teacher read this; this was the first time in my life I had heard this read. This was talking about farming, so it had 100 percent of my attention, since I was a farm boy. I was absolutely amazed at what the teacher read. When she got done reading, she turned to the class and in a real nice voice said, “What do you think of that?” I normally didn’t speak up in class at all, but that day I was so captivated I just blurted out, “That’s stupid.” The teacher was horrified at my response. Her teacher training had not prepared her for this. She was silent for a while not knowing what to do. Finally she managed to say, “Why do you say that?” I quickly responded, “A good farmer doesn’t tear down his good barns that are producing profitably already, he keeps them producing, and builds bigger barns to produce even more. This farmer tore down his good barns! That’s stupid.” The teacher stood in front of the class totally dumb-founded, not knowing how to respond. Finally, after a fair while the teacher said, “Let’s turn to our lesson and see what it says.” From there she went on, not asking the class any more questions. She didn’t want to get into any more predicaments that day.

Looking back on it, there certainly was some truth in what I said, and I’m sure the Lord must have smiled that day when He heard what a young farm boy said in response to His parable. I do admit now, that I certainly missed the point of it that day, but at least I was honest. Being truthful goes a long ways with God.

The Lord didn’t condemn the man for wanting to build bigger barns; He condemned him for living 100 percent for self in this life. He was very rich on this earth, but he was totally bankrupt towards God. And God didn’t say he was stupid, He said he was a fool, which is far worse. How can he be rich towards God you ask? The Scriptures tell us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” It starts by having a personal relationship with the Lord, and then living every day fully for Him. And then He goes on to give an amazing promise that all things that you need will be added unto you. That includes a bigger barn if you need it!

I have a nice small, old barn, and I’m not planning on building a bigger barn. A lot of farmers are building much bigger barns these days, and that’s their choice. I hope they’re not building just for self; I hope they’re also rich towards God. Someday, like the rich farmer in the Bible, we will all stand before God and give an accounting. My heart’s desire is to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.”   I certainly don’t want to hear Him say, “Thou fool.”

Great Opportunities Arise

14 Aug

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Great Opportunities Arise

                Sometimes in life certain things just naturally happen that turn into great opportunities to teach children great lessons that they will remember the rest of their lives. Such is what happened here unexpectedly years ago.

We needed some work done on top of one of our silos, since it was sixty feet up in the air and there was not much to hang on to, I called in an experienced silo man to do it. Dino came and climbed right up there with his tools and went to work.   After a couple hours, he had it fixed and I paid him. I thought it was all done and taken care of, but I was in for a surprise.

About two months later, our son, Joshua, was out by that silo and saw something shiny sticking about one inch out of the ground by a big burdock weed. He tried to pull it out, but couldn’t. So he showed it to me, and I was able to pull it out. It was a vise-grip. We cleaned it up, it was in excellent condition yet. Joshua wondered how it got there in the ground. I realized Dino had accidently dropped it nose first when he was working on top of the silo. That’s why it went into the ground as far as it did. By the time he got the job done, he had forgotten about it.

Now Joshua, from a way small boy on, has really liked tools. So he was really excited to find this tool. He wondered how it had gotten there. Once I had put all the pieces together, I explained it to him. He could see that it all made perfect sense.

Then I asked him what he was going to do with it, since he was the one who found it. He thought real hard on it and then said, “I suppose we should give it back to Dino.” I replied, “Yes, that’s what you should do. That’s the right thing to do.” Joshua’s eyes got kind a big and he said to me, “Can’t you give it back to him, Dad?” I said, “No, you found it, you should give it back to him and tell him how you found it.” I could tell he was a little afraid to do it, so I said to him, “Dino is coming back in a few weeks to do some work on another silo for us, then you can give it to him; I’ll be there right by your side.” He was relieved when I told him that.

Needless to say, I was very proud of him, that he had chosen to do the right thing. There’s a saying, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Many people live by that saying, but it’s totally wrong. It’s always right to give back to a person something they lost if at all possible.

Since Joshua was a way small boy and doing the right thing, I wanted him to be rewarded in a small way. I knew by so doing, it could really help to build good character. Unfortunately, good character is so lacking in many people in this world today.

So without Joshua knowing it, I called Dino up and told him the whole story. I told Dino that I wanted him to reward Joshua in a small way for his honesty. I told him it could be like a one-dollar bill or something else, but that I would reimburse him afterwards for it. He told me that he would give Joshua something, but that it was on him. He wouldn’t take anything from me. So all I could tell him was, “Thank you.”

It was a bright sunny day when Dino drove up by our silos. Joshua got the vice-grip and together we greeted Dino. Joshua handed the tool to him and told him the whole story. Dino took it and thanked Joshua for it. He looked it over and said that it definitely was his. He then thanked Joshua for it and told him that he wanted him to have it for being honest with him. With that, he handed it back to Joshua. Joshua was thrilled; he got a great big smile on his face and thanked Dino for it. Dino then went on to tell us that he has many farmers who look for opportunities to steal tools from him. They will steal while he’s working on their farms, or when he accidently leaves something behind, they don’t give it back to him. How sad, how dishonest, how sinful.

Joshua still has that tool in his toolbox today. He always remembers how Dino gave it to him for being honest. I’m so thankful that Dino did that. It helped to reinforce the biblical values we had been teaching him. When it happened, I could see it was a great opportunity to do so; that’s why I called Dino up.

The Bible says in Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” God expects parents to teach their children His ways. Parents do that by living rightly themselves and thereby setting a good example for their children. Also, great opportunities arise that can be used to teach children God’s ways.   And they will remember them the rest of their lives. Joshua does these many years later, every time he sees that vise-grip in his toolbox.

Great-Great-Grandma Elbert Had The Answer For Today’s Problems

3 Jul

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Great-Great-Grandma Elbert Had The Answer For Today’s Problems

                There are people who lived years ago, that the world considered just ordinary people. But, the lives they lived, and the influence they had, goes on long after they’re dead and gone. Such was the life of my great-great-grandma, Mary (Marie) Elbert.

Mary Ziehlsdorf was born in Germany on June 24, 1834, and as a child gave her life to God. Later on her family immigrated to the United States settling in Wisconsin. There she met and married Philip Elbert. Together they farmed, working very hard to provide for themselves and their family. And what a family they had, eleven children!

Life wasn’t easy for them; they had lots of trials and challenges, obviously. And there were no government programs to help them out. Moreover, they didn’t expect any help from the government. They worked hard with their hands and looked to God to provide for them, and He always did.

It didn’t matter what the weather was like outside, or what problems they were facing that day, Mary would always start her day with a song and prayer. I wonder, if all Americans would do that today, what kind of a nation would we have? I can tell you one thing for sure, it would be vastly different.

It was said of Mary that she was a ray of sunshine to her family and friends, a loving teacher and advisor. It was said that she always went to the Lord in times of trouble and she always encouraged others to do the same.

People today would be shocked and amazed if they knew what Mary’s greatest enjoyment in life was. Her family all testified to what it was: it was having her family gather about her so she could read them the Word of God.

It was said that her husband and children loved and adored her with all their hearts. The world would consider her just an ordinary woman, but I consider her a great woman, but what’s more important is that I believe God considers her a great woman. And in the end, it’s what God thinks that really matters.

In today’s world, we have many, many problems. Many people don’t know what to do or where to turn. People turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sports, tv, or many other things that don’t help them out at all. Mary knew where to turn and did it every day. To God: in the Bible, in prayer and in worship. And her testimony was that God never failed her. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He will not fail you, if you come to Him like Mary did. I know, I’m Mary’s great-great-grandson, and He’s never failed me either.