In the year of 1996 my husband and I began looking for a new place to live. We had been in living in a suburban neighborhood for 10 years. We promised ourselves that we would be out that community within 4 years.\
My husband is an only child and when his parents passed on, less than a year apart, he inherited $150,000.00.
We knew we wanted land. I can remember giving the Lord my wish list. It had to have a full basement, a front porch, a fireplace and most importantly, it had to be big enough for us to own a horse.
We looked at a couple of places and did a little dreaming about each one of them, but our heart was already set on 16 acres of land that we had lived on when we first moved to Ocean County, NJ back in 1983. It was a mostly forested piece of land with 3 houses on it. It was owned by close family friends who had rented us the largest of the three houses. We lived there for 3 years before we decided that it was time to buy our first house.
Ten years later, the sixteen acres went on the market. We didn’t think we could afford it. But it just kept nibbling at the back of our minds. So we went to see our financial advisor. He was also a trusted friend and we told us he thought we could make it happen we decided to go for it!
We were the second people to make a bid on the property. A local business had put in a bid of $205,000.00. We didn’t know it at the time that we put our bid down. We offered $200,000.00 with a downpayment of $150,000.00, then entire amount of my husband’s inheritance. And we got it!
It’s the most wonderful place in the whole world! Since most of the property is wooded, we set ourselves up with the NJ Forestry Stewardship Program, promising to keep our little forest clean by cutting only dead, downed, dying, damaged or dangerous trees. (AKA: the 5 Ds of forestry management. What we cut and sold could be used for farm tax assessment and we kept the woods in good condition for the natural habit that lives there.
To me, 16 acres doesn’t sound so big, but the amount and varied wildlife is the best part of owning this place! We’ve had everything from squirrels and rabbits to deer and foxes. We’ve had turkeys and bats and so many different kinds of birds that we lose track! We’ve even had coyotes and although we haven’t seen one yet, we expect to see a bear anyway now. A man took a photo of a fisher-cat on the property next door to us. We haven’t seen him but I bet we’ve heard him a time or two. We do hear the owls! We’ve seen and heard a barred owl and heard but not seen a screech owl and a great horned owl.
And we’ve had not “a” horse, but 5 horses! And 6 goats, a plethora of chickens and assorted inside animals.
There is not place we would ever want to live! And we truly see it as a gift from God.
We joke about the day we signed the contract. It was as if we could hear Jesus giggling. It had rained all the day but in the late afternoon the sun came out and we saw a rainbow. We knew we had made the right decision.
Now, after 25 years of working hard to keep this place, we have finally paid the mortgage off and it’s ours, all ours!
Very often we ride up the drive or look out a window or stand in the middle of one our fields and we can’t believe how blessed we are and how loved by God we feel.
My Friend, Phil Wyman: "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible." 1 Cor. 9:19
I have this friend named Phil Wyman.
He entered Heaven back in May, 2023 but I only found out today.
Phil told me that he had been pastor of a church in Salem, MA and when he began to reach out to the pagan population in Salem his overseers in the hierarchy of the denomination became concerned about his unconventional ways and eventually asked him to leave.
He left that denomination but he didn’t leave Salem. He had a small body of believers that he fellowshipped with and he continued his work with the pagan population.
I found out about Phil when I was doing research on the “Burning Man” festival held in NV every summer. I’ve long had a desire to go and be a witness of the Lord’s love in that particular place. As it turned out, he wasn’t going to Burning Man that year but he invited me to join him in Salem in October to do street ministry. Every weekend in October there’s a festival in Salam. People dress up. Street performers line the main avenue and perform for tips. Large crowds come out every year just to be in Salem during Halloween season. He asked me if I would like to come for the weekend and do some street ministry with him and I said, “Sure!”
I arrived after dark and stayed at his house. The next morning we donned brown costume monk’s robes and walked down to the main street. We joined the street performers and help up signs that said, “ Hug A Monk” and “Hug A Nun” For hours we stood and gave big hugs to anyone who wanted one. Everyone who lined up was really happy to have a big warm hug! It was awesome! And I got to love on people while not scaring them away with a lot of words about salvation and judgement. And that was the point. Actions speak louder than words and anytime I get to be Jesus to someone I call it a win. It was an awesome day!
You see, Phil believed in building relationships. He thought, how useful is it to tell someone about Jesus and then never see them again? The pagan people he knew in Salem had known him for years and had seen his consistency in words and actions. They knew he was a Christian and they knew that he loved them and appreciated their qualities of “otherness.”
During the summer time, he traveled to Great Britain and worked the festivals there. He would show up and help with set up and sound and anything else he could do for them, including music reciting poetry. In the evenings he sat with them around their fires and listened and commented. His faith would come up and he was open about his life with Jesus, but he did not preach. He simply contributed to the discussion. He wanted his actions to speak his truth, not his words. He knew that many people who turn to paganism do so because they have been seriously burned by practitioners of Christianity. He was a very unusual man, dedicated to Jesus and a lover of all people everywhere, regardless of their faith or creed.
Sikh and you shall find?
That weekend in Salem is the only time I spent with him. But right away I could tell that we were kindred spirits. I listened to his blog and followed his exploits on Facebook. I would often comment and he always responded.
Last year he felt that the Lord was calling him to live in Wales. He’d been there several times and really loved the landscape, the people and the language. He went pretty much broke. He knew he would be ok for the summer because he would travel from festival to festival and there he would find food and lodging. But as the season changed from summer to fall he found it difficult to find a place to live. He did eventually find a place but I knew he struggled financially.
He decided that the next year, he would travel all through Wales, speaking and writing only in Welsh. When his posts popped up in Welsh I would answer in Welsh. (Thank you Google Translate!)
Last summer he fell off my radar. I wasn’t seeing his posts. I prayed for him as he came to mind. Last month I sent him an email but I didn’t get one back.
Then, today I decided to check out his Facebook page and found out that he had passed.
But I’m not sad. A little nostalgic maybe. But he lived his life well and I know that when he came through those pearly gates Jesus greeted him with, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (In Welsh!)