When I wrote this Sunday night, I had just returned from four days at the F & H Goat Ranch, so named because of the fat and happy goats that populate the front pasture of the five-acre spread about twenty miles north of Kerrville. The owner, Julee White, retired from the Dallas rat race and social scene fifteen years ago so she could move closer to family and devote herself, in part, to making the dreams of her two nephews come true. When those dreams included goats for an FFA project, Aunt Julee provided both the goats and living space for them. I don’t think the project was very successful, but the goats didn’t mind. They stayed on at the ranch, invited some friends, and became – well – fat and happy.
The goats aren’t the only happy animals on the ranch. Their sizeable pen is shared with two white miniature donkeys and a Jesus donkey that has markings on his back in the shape of a cross. Two cats and two dogs have unlimited access to the house through a pet door into the laundry room, and a dog “cousin” belonging to Julee’s brother is a frequent guest – uninvited, but always welcome.
Feathered friends also find a warm reception at the F & H. I counted nine hummingbird feeders on the back wall of the house, and thirteen houses and feeders in trees in the back yard. There were more feeders on both sides of the house and in miscellaneous spots all over the property. I commented to Julee that her feed bill must be enormous, and she agreed.
I was one of ten human guests from around the country who came together for a study called “Chains or Christ.” We were greeted with open arms as Julee opened her heart and her home, especially the kitchen. We were treated to delicious casseroles, salads, and homemade pastries for breakfast and dinner. The “light snacks” that were planned for lunch were spread out in the breakfast room – a sink-sized basket filled with a wide variety of granola bars, various other baskets and bowls filled with pretzels, trails mix, and nuts; fresh fruit; and more.
In addition to physical food, we were spiritually fed by Jodi Denning from New Mexico. She described her style of teaching as “offering a drink from a fire hose,” and she wasn’t exaggerating. The material covered during the long weekend was rapid fire and hard hitting, sometimes leaving us breathless but always ready for more.
All the participants are involved in some type of Christian ministry, and although many of us were strangers when we arrived, we quickly bonded as we worshipped, shared, laughed, and cried together. As I write this, I’m hoping I didn’t gain any weight from Julee’s hospitality, but I’m feeling fat and happy, regardless of what the scale says. I feel as if I received, as Luke says, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.”
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