Trust the Process

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

Everyone that watches even the smallest amount of College Football has heard Nick Saban speak the words “Trust the process.” This has been his mantra now for the past 12 years, which has included 5 National Championships, 6 SEC Titles, and basically every award that College Football has to offer.

I keep telling myself that if (arguably) the most successful football coach of all time believes in this phrase, I should too. Although, as a 22 year old college graduate, sometimes it’s hard to trust it. I often find myself stuck in this weird limbo of not being a college student anymore but also not being an adult either. I’m in the process of transitioning from a part-time job into a full time job but at the same time I already have full-time bills to pay. So often life seems to place you in situations where it feels like every time you take a step in the right direction, you get pushed two steps backwards and can’t seem to get out of that rut no matter what you try.

At the beginning of this year, I was preparing to finish school and graduate in May, take the LSAT, and enroll in law school to pursue a career in Corporate Law. It was a decision I often thought about and agonized over as that was the career path that I had decided was right for me years ago and never really questioned. As this became closer and closer to reality, one day it hit me that I had asked for everyone’s opinion besides the One who really mattered. As I began to pray about my future and seek out God’s will for my life I was hit with a very stark realization.

I would hate law.

I don’t want to be stuck in an office working 90 hours a week, no home life, no time to do anything but work. I refuse to allow a job to define who I am and sacrifice my happiness simply because the money is good; not to even mention that this is just not what I believe that the Lord has planned for me. There are parts of a career in the legal field that I know I would enjoy, but I realized that I was chasing a paycheck instead of chasing the Father’s will for my life and I didn’t want that to be the case. It was like Matthew 11:26 was slapping me in the face –

“For what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” 

So, I bailed on law school, and decided to focus on what once seemed like an unrealistic dream. I want to find a career in outdoor journalism and be able to combine my love of writing with my passion for the outdoors and be able to spread the Gospel while doing it.

Duck and Bone has provided me an amazing outlet and opportunity to be able to arrange my thoughts and express them in a way that will hopefully make sense to readers. As most of you know, I have been an outdoor fanatic for most of my life. Those of you who know me know that I drive around blowing duck calls instead of listening to the radio, and I spend way more time on a boat in places most boats can’t even go than the average person ever will. My river days in the summer center around running timber holes and shallow creeks looking for birds instead of pulling an inner tube or wake board. We train dogs and tune calls instead of riding jet skis or swimming. Some call us crazy, some call us obsessed; personally, I call us duck hunters.

The growth of this brand since it’s inception has been astronomical. I have personally watched it grow from an idea, to an Instagram page, to apparel design and production, to having a booth at Hunting Expos in major cities, and trust me – it doesn’t stop here. 2019-2020 is going to be our biggest and best season ever and we have a lot of things in the works for the next year.  The Lord has blessed us abundantly with connections and opportunities to take this brand higher than ever and we cannot wait to see what all is in store for the future.

But for now, we’ll continue to trust in the Father’s will for this company, and as always,

trust the process. 

 

– Josh Vardaman

Advertisements

Blood Brothers

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

 

 

I have been blessed beyond measure with an incredible group of friends. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I’m an extreme extrovert and even though I’ll probably forget your name and monopolize the conversation with stories or jokes, I won’t forget your face and we’ll be friends by the time we quit talking. I firmly believe that God blessed me with the ability to talk to people so that I can share His love with people I encounter by sheer happenstance.

Until college, I never had more than 25 people in my grade at school. Although I certainly had friends at school, most of my friends came from the game of baseball. I fell in love with baseball before I could talk and was hitting home runs in the den before I could walk. Fourteen years, countless games, some minor injuries, some scars, two state titles, and a lifetime of memories later, I took off my cleats for the last time in the dugout at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.

Two of my best friends on this Earth, guys I would take a bullet for in a heartbeat, I met through the game of baseball. Although I made countless great friendships through this game, these two stick out the most. One of them I met when I was four years old at a baseball camp at UNA, the other when his dad became the pastor at my church when we were five and even though we didn’t meet on the baseball field, we played against and with each other countless times through the years. These two guys are the main reasons that I chose to attend Shoals Christian with the goals of furthering our friendship on the baseball field and our brotherhood in Christ.

These two guys, along with the influence of many others, have helped make me into who I am today. We’ve laughed together, cried together, fought for each other, but most importantly loved each other with the brotherhood of Christ through all. These days “friend” is thrown around so loosely and surface based; however, to me, friends like these are the ones parents encourage their children to find. These guys are as much sons to my parents as I am and I know their parents feel the same way about me. The great theologian (or country singer, whichever you prefer) Luke Bryan wrote the song “Blood Brothers” about this very topic. He says:

“Blood Brothers, closer than the next of kin,

thick as thieves the best of friends,

take a bullet for each other.

Yeah brothers, a light that don’t come cheap

You fight, you cry, you lie, you bleed

And you lean on one another.”

Find friends that will sit in the woods with you in the freezing cold and laugh when you miss or help you drag a giant buck out of a creek. Find friends that will always build you up and encourage you in the blood of Christ. Find friends that will hold you accountable. Most importantly, find friends that will love you unconditionally and lead you to the foot of the cross in everything. Find brothers like mine.

Love you guys.

 

 

2

 

 

Why We Hunt and Why It’s Important

“How can you kill innocent little animals?? They’re so cute. They never did anything to you!”

If you’ve been hunting for any significant length of time and people are aware of this, you’ve had this conversation at least once. People ask me these questions all the time and while i usually just crack a smile and roll my eyes, there are actually some very real, significant answers to why we wake up at four in the morning to sneak through the woods and commit atrocities that are near unthinkable to those who oppose the things we are passionate about. Sadly, people usually only see the surface level of what we do – i.e. shooting animals without remorse. In reality, although the chase and sport of hunting are absolutely reasons that we enjoy what we do, these are far from the most important reasons that we endure early mornings and harsh weather conditions in pursuit of wild game.

Hunting, for me, has been a way to develop some very important relationships in my life. My grandfather, my role model, the single man I aspire to be like most in this world, taught me to hunt and fish from an early age. He taught me the importance of hunting and our duty to harvest animals in the most ethical way possible when we have the opportunity to do so. Most importantly, my grandfather showed me the love of our Creator through the outdoors.

 

Although I was saved at an early age of five years old and truly believe that it was a true conversion experience at that time, it wasn’t until I became active in the outdoors that I really understood how big our God truly is. From the immaculate sunrises through the trees or over the water, to the first song of the morning from the birds as they awake, it is evident that the Father spared no detail in His creation.

 

Without hunters, ecosystems would become vastly overpopulated and animals would begin to die of disease and starvation as opposed to providing healthy meals for families all across the country. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.6 million deer-car collisions occur every year leading to “200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries, and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage.” The resulting animal carcasses are often simply dragged to the side of the road resulting in a never-ending cycle of animals meeting cars, causing injuries or damages, and attracting more animals. It is our job as hunters to help regulate the population of wildlife in an ethical manner so the populations do not increase to dangerously high levels. The book of Genesis even touches on this during the first chapter during the story of Creation. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV).

The first Scriptural reference of actually hunting game comes in Genesis Chapter 27 verse 3 with Issac talking to his firstborn son Esau. Issac says to Esau, “Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me…” Although this is not written in the red letters of Jesus’ audible words like in the New Testament, since we as believers accept that the written word of God is holy and inspired as He tells us it is, it only stands to reason that God wants us to take advantage of the dominion over the animals that He has given us as well.

Hunting, for me, has quickly become a combination of all these reasons that support our passion. My Grandfather taught me from an early age to respect the lives of the animals we take and thank God for the opportunity to enjoy His creation every time we hunt. Although the Father looked at His creation and “saw that it was good,” He also put humans at the top of the food chain for a designed reason with the purpose of being the ultimate provider for us and our families. Take the time today to thank the Lord for his immaculate Creation and the ability we have to enjoy it in such a way that we as hunters fell in love with long ago.

 

 

22673_1374787408400_3226248_n
My Grandfather, Morris McKee, with his first Caribou