Day 2 First time at the ranch
Dana stayed at a different location than us, but invited us to have breakfast with her before the clinic started. She had found a really cute little cottage-turned-restaurant with a Bend flair. It was so great to squeeze her and get all caught up. We go to the same church, but she is a travel nurse and has been in California since early January. We shared our excitement and hopes about the clinic we were about to attend and headed off to Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.
CPYR is only about 15 minutes from Bend, so we were there in no time. Parking was directly across the street from the main ranch and they shuttled us to and fro. From the moment we said our first hello to the staff, we were welcomed like family.
When we arrived, we picked up our name tags, a cool water bottle, and our handbook. When I say handbook, I’m not talking about a pamphlet of papers. This thing is a 260 page spiral bound book with more information that I can wrap my head around, even now. We then set off to walk “up the hill” (Kim references people walking “up the hill” in her books a lot). At the top of the hill we were warmly greeted and had a photo taken for a contact book that they were compiling for the clinic. In one of my many, many “geek out” moments, I realized that we were the very first people to arrive!
From noon to 1PM we were able to mingle and explore the ranch. The staff were just amazing! They were so intentional in speaking with us. This intentionality carried throughout the clinic. At every meal and break, the staff made a point of chatting with the guests. Chris was chatting with someone, so Dana and I decided to head up to the highest point where the views would be breathtaking and a cross had been erected. Because we were the first people to arrive, we figured the spot would get more popular as the days went on and thought we should take advantage of the quietness while we had the opportunity. As I sat there and prayed, I experienced many different emotions. I was in awe of God’s creation of nature. The snowcapped mountains on the horizon were in complete contrast to the 80 degree, sunny day we were experiencing. As I studied the ranch below us, I felt excited about what our farm could look like; I wondered how God is going to make it happen; I was so thankful for the time with Chris and to watch him, with God’s guidance, grow spiritually and try so many new things; I missed our kids; I was humbled by my friend sitting next to me, that she would join us; I was overflowing with thanksgiving that we would be sitting where we were; and most of all, I felt God’s love for me that He would fill me with so much wonder and hope. It was a special time, to say the least. We sat there for about half an hour or so and enjoyed the quiet time with our Lord. Looking back, this time was made even more special by the fact that the weather deteriorated each day and this first day was the only day that had skies clear enough to see the mountains.
From 1-3:30, we had some time of worship, got a tour of the ranch and got to hear how they got started, 22 years ago. The whole place is centered around redemption. Even the way it got started! The land was once a cinder pit. Basically, a dug out area of earth that the owner sold lava rocks out of. Literally a rock pit! When the Meeders purchased it, most people thought they were totally nuts. They started putting local farmer’s manure on the earth to start to make some semblance of soil and Troy, who worked as a landscaper at the time, would bring home broken and discarded plants from his jobs. From there, it has steadily grown into what it is today. It was during this very first session that my first little golden nugget hit me. Kim was speaking to us and emphasized how much the whole thing belongs to God. She said that if we don’t put God first in our lives each day, then we are god, not Him. That one struck me like a bolt of lightning and I have read my bible every day since then before my feet even hit the floor.
After the tour and hearing about their start, we met the staff members. Each one introduced him or herself and what their job is at the ranch. Several of them had a word to share with us. It was really nice to see so many married staff members. If I remember correctly, at least three couples met at the ranch and are now happily married and working there.
Next, we went to a grassy knoll and took a huge, group photo. There were 94 clinic participants, plus the staff members. After the photo, they had put up signs with time zones and we got to mingle with people in our own time zone. We were the only people there from VA, but there were people from NY, PA, NC, and a few other spots near us.
The next session was given by Troy Meeder and was about vision, mission,
and values. He spoke to us about ministry vs. business, being patient, who our clients will be, keeping good records, working together with your spouse, being passionate about what you’re doing, how to make a mission statement, and writing down some core values. He talked about so much more, but those were the main points. He encouraged us to let our passion bubble out of us so that others are excited about the vision God has given us. He encouraged us so much by emphasizing that God made us for this purpose. Whatever our purpose is, God made us just for it! He reminded us to honor God in every choice we make, for it is only from Him that we are able to accomplish His plans for us. I got two more little golden nuggets of encouragement and wisdom from Troy. The first is that when you avoid the war you were born for, you have no grace for that. In other words, if you run away from God’s plan for you out of fear or mistrust, you run away from God’s grace, too. Face the challenge and He will be with you! The second is that you can’t fix a problem with the same mind that created it. You must renew your mind in Him every day. Seek Him, grow closer to Him; He has all of the answers. This very first session was probably my favorite out of the whole time – lol! Needless to say, I was excited about the next few days.
Before dinner each day, I got to call and check in with the kids. They were, of course, doing great! Nana was keeping them happy and on schedule. I am still in awe at her ability to just step in and take over!
At 6:00 dinner was served. Each meal was catered by a local company and was absolutely fabulous!!!! We were able to visit with other clinic participants during each meal and the staff always came to speak with us, too. They made sure that each table had at least one staff member sitting at it. Around 7:30, we took the shuttle back over to our cars and went to the hotel. Worship started at 8:15 the next morning, so we chose to meet at 7:45 so we had some time to visit a little before the day started.
Chris and I had no problem going to sleep! Our clocks were still on east coast time and it was getting late. This made getting up each morning much easier though :-)