New Babies – Rabbits!

Last month I bred my two Rex does for the first time. About five days ago, one or both of them gave birth.

There are six of them, and I’m not entirely sure whether both does gave birth in the same nestbox (entirely possible in a colony situation like mine) or only one of the does was actually pregnant. Either way, all six kits are extremely fat and healthy, and squeak and try to suck on my fingers when I pick them up.

I’ll get good pictures once they are older – I’m trying not to bother them too much at this stage. One is solid grey.

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Two are black otters, and three more are white and black spotted.

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The does, which got EXTREMELY hormonal and feisty during the pregnancy (both of them!) are now calming down. I can actually pet Blackberry again without risking losing a chunk of skin. (I have a nice healing mark on the back of my hand where she managed to nail me while I was trying to put food in her bowl.) I kept hearing from people who said you can’t breed rabbits in a colony situation because the does will kill each other’s kits – or fight each other. I confess I got a bit worried when they turned so crazy-mean to me, but other than a bit of chasing around at feeding time, they continued to enjoy each other’s company. I’d see them snuggling together and grooming each other.  I think it helps that they are sisters, and have never known life apart from each other. They also don’t seem to mind me handling the babies!

At the end of April, I’ll have new chickens in the family, too. Sansa, my Cream Legbar hatched last Spring, has gone broody for me.

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I plan on giving her a couple of chicks from our local feed store. Probably a Speckled Sussex, and maybe a black sexlink.

And just last night, my proven broody mama, Ophelia, my frizzle cochin, decided she wants in on the action. As she never really cares about her children once they reach the age of self-sufficiency, I’m giving her the meat chicks this year. We’re trying three Dark Cornish as an experiment this year, and about 5-6 Freedom Rangers. She’s a big girl, so these larger clutches work out really well with her.

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Spring is busting out all over here…for the first time, my young pear trees are covered in buds!

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The Story of a Beloved Chicken

And first off, let me reassure those of you who know her….no, Ellie hasn’t died. In fact, she is in perfect health. But she is a miracle hen in more ways than one, and it’s time to tell her whole story.

Ellie came to me about eight years ago, via a mail order delivery that went wrong in so many ways. Several of the chicks died, but Ellie was one of the lucky ones that made it.

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She was a teeny, tiny little Welsummer, who I thought was a rooster for a long time because of her super long legs and demanding voice. She used to stand on top of her water bottle and call for me to come pick her up. She knew, even before I did, how special our relationship was.

A few animals are just like that. Some people call them ‘heart animals’, those special one-of-a-kind beasties that touch you and connect with you in a way other animals haven’t. Ellie is definitely my heart animal.

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She put up with my costuming (although she was extremely leery of Captain Jack) and she quickly learned how to make a beeline for the back kitchen door whenever I let her out into the yard. She knows where all the good treats are!

She has perfect trust of me, and she’s the only chicken I’ve ever entirely trusted as well. I know she won’t try to peck my face, and before she jumps up in my lap, she makes a special point of pooping first – friends don’t poop on friends!

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Her one flaw is her insane jealousy – she doesn’t want to share me with the other hens. If I hold one of the other girls, she turns her back on me, and walks away, sadly.

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And then she stands in a corner, looking back over at me until I relent and put the other chicken down and pick her up instead.

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She has me trained, a peck on my knees means I should sit, so she can sit in my lap. A peck on my shoes means I should take her on a walk around the yard. I’m not even making this stuff up. None of my other chickens are remotely like her. They are sweet girls, but Ellie is special in so many ways.

When she was a little over a year old, she began to suffer from vent prolapses. I don’t recommend googling this unless you have a strong stomach. The pictures aren’t pretty, and most chickens don’t survive unless they have a very mild case of it. Ellie’s case, while not horrific as some, was incessant. It was happening continually, for months, every time she pooped or laid an egg. She was a very, very good girl, and would let me help her, and I got very skilled at returning chicken internal parts up where they belonged, but I was in constant fear and dread. I knew if this continued, one day she would either prolapse so badly that she couldn’t be saved, or one of the other chickens would peck her so badly that she got an infection and died. Part of the time, she was sleeping in a crate in my bedroom to protect her from the other girls’ pecking…but that wasn’t good, either. Hens need to be with other hens, and a hen separated too long from her flock can lose her pecking order status in the flock and become an outcast. I got a few months respite during the winter when she stopped laying…and I hoped the rest would let her heal, but the following spring/summer, she was back to where she was before, only worse.

I couldn’t bear it. I was spending hours, nearly every day, researching prolapses on the internet, calling vets, trying to find some solution, and the whole time I just felt this endless, oppressive dread pressing down on me. I seriously thought I was going to have to either put her down, or else I’d come out to the coop some day and find her a bloody, ripped-apart mess. I’ve had lots of animals I’ve loved and cared for, but none of them have ever torn my heart apart like this little hen

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One afternoon, though, I was sitting with her in my lap, and I was praying over her as I often did, and God answered me. I heard a voice, as absolutely clear and audible and separate from myself as it’s possible for a voice to be, and the voice said: “Stop being afraid.” And instantly – instantly – all the fear and dread I’d been living with for months just lifted away and was completely gone. Absolutely vanished. Then the voice said: “You don’t have to worry anymore. She will not have this again.”

And I believed. There was not the slightest doubt in my mind. From that second on, I knew Ellie would never have a prolapse again. And she hasn’t. Not for seven years. Seven years, from that very instant when God cared enough to reach down and heal her. And not only heal her, but actually speak to me. Because He knew, that if He didn’t explain to me what had happened, I’d still be fearful every time she started laying eggs in the Spring; I’d be constantly worried it would start happening again.  He spoke to me, because He didn’t want me to have that dread in my life. He just wanted me to be able to enjoy my summers with my chicken.

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This is our God. He is a God who still works miracles, and He is a God who not only cares about the sparrows, but also about one little chicken. 

 

The Spring Garden

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The Nadia cherry/plum hybrid is blooming like crazy this year…for the first time! Hopefully, that means we’ll get at least a few fruits this summer. I’m really interested in what a cherry/plum tastes like.

The other young fruit trees are showing signs of a bountiful harvest as well. I think all the apples are going to bloom, and the pears as well.

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I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the garden this year…if I’m still here on earth. And of course I’d MUCH rather be gone! (see my previous blog post to know why.) But only God knows what His plans are, and whatever they are, they are perfect. Love this new stepping stone for the garden I bought this month!

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I have my greenhouse (and my kitchen window) filling with pots of started seeds, but the primary thing I’ve been doing is building the last three major builds of my little urban farm: the meat chicken coop, the Bunny Bordello, and the wildlife garden corner.

The egg chickens don’t like the annual takeover of their coop by a dozen crazy teenaged Little Meats, so I decided to remodel the old duck coop into a coop that would work for the meat chickens.

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I took off the nesting area, added an enlargement to the indoor area, then reattached the nesting area to the right side. Until the Little Meats arrive (I have three dark Cornish coming April 23rd, plus I’ll get a handful of Freedom/Red Rangers) the egg girls are using it as a fun place to hang out and lay their eggs. They like variety, my hens. I’m desperately hoping that one of them will go broody in the next couple of weeks and save me the trouble of hand-raising these little meaties.

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Another view of the remodeled coop. The stepping stones lead through the mini “food forest” I’m planting, right to the nest box area.

Yesterday, I finished the Bunny Bordello. This is the male rabbit’s new home, right next to the does’ Bunny Barn.

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Sorrel loves it. Not only does he have more room to play, he can interact with the does through the adjoining wire door.

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A couple of weeks ago, I bred both the does to him, and they were perfect little angels about it…no issues at all. Since they’ve since stopped humping each other and started trying to burrow, I think the pregnancy took in both does. I should have babies the first week of April!

My third project (and this one will be very much on-going all Spring and Summer) is the wildlife garden. My first action was to build a fence on the back side, adjoining the neighbor’s fence. I still need to continue my fence at some point right alongside of his, because he built his far too short, and way too full of gaps. Wild rabbits can (and do!) waltz right through his boards to come eat my veggies. Temporarily, I’ve put hardware cloth along the bottom of his fence to keep the rabbits out. I do want this to be a wildlife garden, but the wild rabbits are taking over our neighborhood, and if I let them in, I couldn’t have any food left for me or MY rabbits! Also, in the front of the picture, where the pear espalier tree is, I will be putting up a shorter fence, just to define the area, and keep my wild corgi out.

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On the wall, I hung a set of mirrors my mom gave me. I adore mirrors in a garden.

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I’m building a set of birdhouses to line the lower fence on the left side. The first one had interested possible occupants the morning after I put it up! Also, notice the blue table. This is what you call working with circumstances. That blue table is actually an ancient washing machine that was dumped in a corner of my yard. It was filled with dirt and rocks, and really just immoveable. So I spray painted it blue, put on a wood top, and added a bowl of water for the birds.

I need to start working on planting things. I want to have some more fruit producing trees/bushes for the birds, herbs and flowers for the bees/butterflies, and some dye plants for me. I’ll be also putting in a very small wildlife pond. Very small! And look, I found this adorable frog sculpture to sit on my log. He looks so realistic I do a double take when I walk past him. Hopefully, once I have the pond, I’ll attract some genuine live frogs.

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I like having logs in my garden. The bugs like them, and as they break down, interesting things happen: here, a foxglove has actually seeded itself inside.

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In my April 23rd chick order, I’m also getting three bantam cochin hens. Besides being great broody hens for more fragile eggs, I’m going to put these smaller chickens to work in my garden, using a chicken tractor, and also some free-ranging in areas where I hope they will be less destructive than standard sized hens. These girls will be hand-raised by me, so they will be super friendly and sweet.  At first, they will living together in a small separate coop, but if they manage to integrate with my older hens, they will be able to move into the regular coop eventually.

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One last thing, a dear friend of mine just started a blog documenting her and her husband’s journey towards self-reliance, simplicity, and marital happiness.  I highly recommend you check it out: http://making-it-home.net/

The Greatest Gift

It used to be that I thought I had been born into the wrong time. I’ve never much liked modern things – cellphones, computers, cars, tech gadgets in general. I’ve always been drawn to old-fashioned things, and old-fashioned ways of doing things. Working with my hands, growing food, raising animals…I’d be happiest on a piece of land somewhere far away from civilization. Except for the issues of dental care and a few other critical matters, I would have wished I’d been born prior to about 1900.

That has changed. Today I feel so incredibly happy and grateful that I was born here, right now, right where I am. Unless I get unexpectedly hit by a bus, I will be part of a generation and people that will experience the single most incredible thing to ever happen in the history of the world.

The Bible is around 30% prophecy, and unlike every other book of prophecy, the Bible has been 100% accurate. Prophecies written about King Cyrus of Persia and Alexander the Great were so incredibly detailed and correct that when those men were shown these prophecies they instantly recognized themselves. It is the greatest historical document that has ever existed. Time and time again, historians have doubted certain historical pieces of the Bible, only to have the Bible prove itself through archaeological discoveries.

But there are still numerous prophecies left to be fulfilled – the prophecies pertaining to the end of the world as it currently exists. This world of ours is tired and worn out. It’s frustrating and terrifying. All of nature cries out to be redeemed from the evil that has overcome it.  Certain people have been setting dates for the end of the world, based on this blood moon, or that archaic bit of numerology. They’ve all been wrong, and they’ve given Bible prophecy a bad reputation. But those are the failings of men, not the failings of the Bible.

The Bible itself says that for the first time ever in the history of the world, this generation, our generation, is living in the time when all things could be fulfilled. All the things that have to be in place, like the restoration of Israel as a nation and the presence of a Russian alliance in the Middle East, have happened. Everything else, like the existence of a cashless society and a chip implant to allow people to buy and sell, is actively happening now. People are already getting that chip. They are lining up at tech conventions to get one. It’s incredible to watch the news now, because almost everything is torn right out of the Bible. It’s like watching dominoes being set up, oh so carefully – and then holding your breath and waiting for that finger to tip over the first one and start the chain reaction into chaos.

dominoes-2364492_640Soon, Damascus will destroyed completely and made uninhabitable, probably by Israel’s hand. Following that, a coalition of nations (including Russia) will strike against Israel and seek to destroy her. America won’t defend Israel this time. I don’t know why – America is not mentioned in the Bible at all. Probably because we are so new that we are largely unimportant in the scheme of things, and probably because something terrible will distract us and force us to pull our attention in to ourselves. Could be a massive earthquake, could be a strike from North Korea. The end is happening, and it’s happening now, in our lifetimes, likely within five years. I’m thinking that first domino could tip over this year, in 2018.

 

It’s going to be a terrible time for the people left on earth. It’s going to be the worst time that has ever happened, or will ever happen. For a period of seven years, the equivalent of Los Angeles’ entire population will die every single day.  Of war, and disease, and famine, and natural disasters on a scale we’ve never yet experienced.

Despite that, I’m filled right now with such joy and excitement. Because as terrible as those times will be, no one has to go through them. Going through them is a decision. God has made it clear to all the world that He exists. His existence is so evident throughout all the world – through His created world, through His witnesses, through the very fact of Israel’s miraculous existence itself – so evident that mankind is left without any excuse. It’s a simple fact: eventually all the world will believe in God. No one has a choice about that. The only choice you have is whether you will believe now, when there is still time to save yourself from the horrors to come, or whether you will believe later, when it is too late.

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Not believing would be like refusing to believe in the wind because you can’t see it, even though you can see everything the wind does. And because I believe, I will be taken out of the world prior to the end. I will be saved from the wrath to come. One day, probably very soon, millions of people will suddenly disappear out of the world. It won’t be all the churchgoers, because attending church is not enough to save them. It won’t even be all the people who believe in God, because believing in God’s mere existence is not enough either. It will be only the people who have accepted Christ into their lives in a personal relationship with him, the people who believe and confess that Christ came to the earth, and died to pay the debt they owed, died to ransom them from sin and sorrow and guilt, and then rose again, defeating death so that through Him, we also might be saved. Because of His tremendous love for me, regardless of what I deserve, my destiny is no longer chained to this world, and this life. I have been literally and legally adopted into the family of God, chosen to be a daughter and Queen and priest of the world to come.

Some of you reading this already know what I’m talking about. Isn’t it wonderful? The joy is beyond words.

Some of you don’t know. I hope you’ll come to your own understanding, and not continue to brush it off as something that doesn’t apply to your life. You’ve been offered the most precious thing possible to give, a change that will make you happier than you have ever been. It’s a gift. It’s free. And the world that waiting is beyond anything you can imagine.

A Summoning of Djinn

I have a new book out – The Summoning of Djinn. It’s the fourth in the Society of Queen’s Own Monster Hunters series.

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After the frightening winter ball at Inkling House, Miss Winnifred Sebastian-Veals believes she has seen the last of snow–and of horrible fairy tales–for at least the rest of her life. But when the Queen’s sorcerer, Mr. Tibbits, and her erstwhile beloved Mr. Smythe come to rescue her, she wonders whether it is truly a rescue at all, or whether she will be plunged into new horrors.

Warning: contains witches, aunts, djinn, kraken, selkies, Icelandic scenery, and volcanoes–preferably extinct. Also contains the remedy to a misplaced heart.

 

Quick Farm Update

First, let me just say that if you’re reading this and only want to hear about my upcoming book releases, my book email list sign up list is here. Sign up and you’ll get one short novel free, as well as any future short novels I write.

Now back to the animals….

The two new Cream Legbar hens are all grown up, and should be laying their first eggs soon. They are supposed to be sky blue, but I’m slightly skeptical that they will really be THAT blue. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve named these two new girls Khaleesi and Sansa. The white one is Khaleesi, of course!

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Their brother, Bertie Wooster, who I was hoping to keep, turned out to be gorgeous.

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Pure white, and he seemed like he might turn out to be a pretty nice guy. Unfortunately, while the nearest neighbors were fine with him, some guy on another street complained, and so I had to get rid of him. Roosters are technically legal to have inside the city limits where I live, but they come under the noise complaints laws, so if someone complains, you’re out of luck. Oh well, better now I guess, then when the hens really got attached to him.  They were a little annoyed by him now, because they just didn’t get the point of his dancing and posturing. They thought he was one weird hen…see Josie’s face in the picture below? That’s her “good gracious, what is he going to do now?” face!

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The Rex rabbits are grown up too, but I’m not going to try breeding them until the end of February, at least. I don’t want to deal with new mothers, babies, and cold temperatures. I’ve been letting the male, Sorrel, out to run in the chicken yard, and you can tell they’re of age, because he goes right over to the does’ barn and says hello.

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There’s nothing sweeter than a stolen kiss through the wire!

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The does are not particularly friendly – they tolerate me because I bring the food, but Sorrel loves to be petted. Since he is so tame, I trust him to play out in the entire yard.

If you’re wondering, the “thing on his neck” is his dewlap. It’s a roll of fat that adult rabbits have. (My mom just had to ask that question on camera, lol).

Best Books I Read in 2017

I read a lot of books, usually around 150 a year. Every year I create a list of the top few I read that really stuck with me, or that changed my life in some way. It’s normally a mix of fiction and nonfiction, junior books and adult. I list them in no particular order…except I always save the absolute BEST BOOK for last. So here we go!

1: The Forgotten Skills of Cooking, by Darina Allen.

Lush photos combined with old-fashioned cookery. Also has chapters on keeping chickens, and other related skills.  This is one of those books that I found at the library, read about two pages, and bought myself a copy off Amazon.

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2: The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How, by Andrea Chesman.

I put off getting this book for ages, even though I love the others in this backyard homestead series. I felt like I would already know too much of the information inside. Wrong. Although I did know a great deal, Chesman wrote a very entertaining and personal book, with a wealth of helpful information.

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3: Empty Grave, by Jonathan Stroud.

The final book in the Lockwood & Co Series. This series was phenomenal all the way through, and this particular book could easily have been the best of the year…except that it was overtaken at the very tail of 2017 by the actual winner.  I’m just blown away by the world-building Stroud has done here. Funny story…at my library, a 30s something guy came in to pick up this book, and he was visibly over the moon at having it in his hands. I commented on how excited I was to get it myself, and he clutched it against his chest and said, “Yeah, I have to read it fast. My daughter wants it too!” I hear Stroud is considering a spin-off series, and I’d definitely be down for that.

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4: Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant.

Mermaids. Evil, murderous mermaids. Or…are they? Really well-done, well-written, and just plain fun. Mira Grant also writes under the name Seanan McGuire, and she’s made this list before under that name.

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5: Radical Homemakers, by Shannon Hayes.

This book is how I feel. It’s amazing. And the historical information is extremely interesting.

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6: Eat Dirt, by Dr. Josh Axe.

Incredibly interesting book. This could be a life-changing book for almost everyone.

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7: Nourishing Fats, by Sally Fallon.

Natural animal fats are not the enemy. Despite what certain medical organizations would like you to believe, it is the lack of whole milk, cream, butter, lard, organ meats and other sources of traditional foods that is causing heart problems, obesity, and almost all of our health issues. This book explains the science, using the medical profession’s own studies to definitively prove that the low-fat diet is nothing more than a lie. Eat more butter! It’s critical for your health.

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8: Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven, by Dan Story.

Having made an extensive study of the topic, I’ve come to the conclusion there is ZERO Biblical evidence for the idea that animals don’t have immortal souls – and an astounding amount of Biblical evidence that they do. In fact, I think it’s blindingly obvious (once you look) that animals will be redeemed and resurrected from the curse we put upon them. I look forward to sharing my eternity with the animals I love.

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9: She Rides Shotgun, by Jordan Harper.

Loved everything about this book…except that it ended. And the author is absolutely right: the bear isn’t real, but he’s true.

Can’t wait to see what Harper writes next.

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10: Deep Nutrition, by Catherine Shanahan, M.D.

One of those books everyone should read, especially if you’re EVER planning on becoming pregnant, if you currently have any sort of ill health, are trying to lose weight, or if you just want to strong, young, and healthy all your life.

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11: Small-Scale Poultry Flock, by Harvey Ussery

There’s a foreward by Joel Salatin. Do you need to know anything else? Incredible book; hands down THE BEST book on small farm and backyard flocks available. I’ve read most of the chicken books out there, and not a single one comes close to this one. One hundred stars.

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12: Assassin’s Fate, by Robin Hobb.

Fantastic end to this series…and probably to all her series set in this particular world. So many fates besides Fitz’s are entwined in this book. Not ashamed to say I was bawling like a baby by the end.

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And out of all 150+ books, here’s the absolute best book I read this past year:

13: 7 Things You Have to Know to Understand End Times Prophecy, by Jack Kelley

The cover is a bit cheesy, I will admit. But the words inside are pure gold.  This book has literally changed my life.  Now I’m eagerly watching and anticipating, absolutely positive that we’re not only living in the end times, but that Christ will return within just a few years (if even that long!) to take his church home “in the twinkling of an eye” leaving the rest of the world behind.  For the first time in all of history, ALL the things foretold in the Bible are not only possible, but are actually in the process of happening. It’s incredible to watch the news and see it happen, piece by piece. Jack Kelley also has a helpful website: gracethrufaith.com, with TONS of studies, articles, and answered questions. I’ve been glued to my Bible the last week or so.

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