Growing roots & learning lessons

This blog, for me, is a kind of release. I write when I feel prompted and I feel good when I’m done, like a weight has been lifted. Even if I don’t post what I write, even if I leave it unfinished, it still helps me. Psalm 55:22 reads, Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. I suppose that’s why it feels better when I’m done. I have quite a few blog posts that have never been finished. After I write what needs to come out of me, the urge to finish them in a publishable way just dissipates and I save them for another day. I’m going to include the March blog post that I started and did not complete. Keep in mind that this was from March and I was probably suffering from a bit of baby blues. Even so, it offered a wonderful opportunity to grow.

From March – an unposted excerpt from a blog post…

It seems to me that when I am at my lowest, when my soul truly cries out to God (which usually involves real tears here on earth), He hears my cries and answers in some way that gives me hope. At this stage of our journey, as if things weren’t “real” before, they are getting “real” now and stressing us in a way that is inevitable in life; financially. We need money to live, for food, housing, clothes… Our bank account is shrinking and Chris’s internship is coming to an end (in mid-June). By that time, something needs to happen. Chris and I have been so certain that God would come through and produce a farm for us to have the horse ministry, that we are sort of in disbelief that it hasn’t happened yet. What we believe is God’s desire and plan for us is the whole reason we’ve completely flipped our lifestyle upside down and changed the way we live. Our desire, as a family, is to live for God, share His love with everyone, and be obedient to where He wants us to do that. When MY plans for this journey lead me to a place that I feel God isn’t showing up, I get very discouraged.

I’ve said it before, if the doorway to doubt cracks open just the tiniest little bit, Satan kicks it wide open and floods my soul with doubt and heaviness. Recently, I let that door open a crack and that’s exactly what happened. Even in the midst of the pure joy of welcoming our beautiful daughter into our lives, my heart became full of doubt and utter sadness! Questions swirled in my mind – what are we going to do when our money runs out? We’re getting close with only a few more months until the savings are gone and Chris’s internship is finished. One or both of us are going to have to go back to jobs that we don’t feel like we’re being called to do, kids will have to go back to school instead of being homeschooled, my precious littles will be in daycare. What if we can’t stay in this house much longer? The owners were using it as a guest house and we were only supposed to be short term (2 years later we’re still here…). They have been more than gracious and kind (in fact, we have truly become family) but we are taking their ministry away from them by staying for so long. Then the biggie – what if we are wrong? What if this has all been in our heads and not from God at all? Why hasn’t He come through? Where is He? We have been telling our kids that He is going to provide, that He loves us, that His plans for us are good – what if we are wrong? Wow! It is truly amazing how quickly I can go down a dark hole that leads me to begin to doubt the very foundation of everything I believe and base my life on. I have teetered on the edge of this cliff before, but never plunged over the edge like I did recently. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the hormones and emotions of just having a baby and the thought of providing for another amazing miracle while our bank account continues to shrink. Thankfully, His mercies are new every single day and I don’t have to stay in that place for very long. He always, always, reaches down and pulls me back to solid ground. Through His word, His people, circumstances that He sends our way, and even songs that catch our attention.

We have spent a lot of time dreaming about the horse ministry. Wondering where it will be, who will we serve, what will it look like? We’ve also spent a lot of time speculating about God’s plan and what He is trying to teach us in this journey. Why did the opportunity present itself for Chris at Love INC? What is he supposed to learn during his time there? God is working. Of this I have no doubt. Today, was a perfect example of God pulling me back to solid ground through hope and through the people He has placed in our path. A man, who has recently acquired a large, local property, called Love INC today and expressed an interest in connecting with them because he wants to start a horse ministry for veterans. Say what?!?! Now, we have no clue where this will lead. In fact, it may go absolutely nowhere, however, it was exactly what Chris and I needed to hear to renew our hearts in the middle of our doubt. Instead of the what if’s being negative, the what if’s became positive and we began dreaming again. We also have someone who is experienced in helping to organize non-profit organizations, willing to walk with us for a time and put a solid, practical plan in place. Even since I started writing this blog post, I have another huge praise to report… we found out we are getting a tax return large enough to hold us for a few more months. Our June deadline has been pushed back by a few months and I am very relieved.

Over the winter we were blessed to have many people, who love and support us, meet with us for prayer and encouragement. As we face the changes coming in June, they have been a great source of support and gentle guidance. One dear friend gifted us with a book comprised of short stories about spiritual winters. One of the most impactful stories that I’ve read, so far, is about Jonathan Helser. He says that the journey of the winter season causes our roots to grow deep enough to hold the weight of the fruit that is coming from the Promised Land. I found that to be so encouraging! When I look at our life and the movement towards the horse ministry, I see bare trees. Nothing growing, no green, nothing sprouting. Just bare sticks. But like trees in the winter, my roots are growing deeper. Even though the growth can’t be seen, it is definitely happening. It also happens that when fruit trees are barren, that is when the pruning takes place. The trees are pruned to rid the tree of the old, weak growth and allow for new, fresh growth. God has been pruning me to allow for His fruit to burst forth!

We had a productive brainstorming meeting with a group of twenty or so people that are supporting us with the horse ministry. We talked about the kinds of things and people we need to get started, the people that would be served by the ministry, and what steps we need to take to be proactive and to be ready for when God moves. It was a fun meeting and helped us to see that God has given this vision to more than just us, the burden of the ministry is not ours alone, and that there are tangible things we can be doing before we even have a physical ministry.

Over the course of this literal and spiritual winter, God has revealed a couple of things to me. I realized that I had unknowingly started to place my value in the truth of Chris and I starting a horse ministry. As if my eternal value was somehow based on the reality of this vision. The horse ministry is not the end game, Jesus is, with or without the horse ministry. The bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. My focus had become worldly, even though it was for Him. No wonder the gate is so narrow; it is so easy to slip through the wide gate! He also revealed to me that my disappointment in our circumstance and lack of movement on His part was only because of my expectations of Him. Not His promise to me, but my own ideas of what I thought He should be doing.

Between the things that God has been showing me and the people who have surrounded us with love and prayers, the blues have gone and I feel light and happy again.

Since my last blog post in January, we welcomed our fifth child, a beautiful, dark haired baby girl. On February 6, at 5:37pm, 8lb 5oz Charlotte Adele Beck entered the world. This was our first surprise gender, so it was very exciting! The labor and delivery were pretty short and sweet but my favorite part of the event was the fact that Chris was able to “catch” Charlotte on her way into the world. As she took her first breaths of oxygen, he held her in his hands. It was a beautiful moment. She is now 12 weeks old and we are all smitten! Her smiles and coos fill our hearts with joy that only a baby can bring.

Things are alive and growing on the farm. The hay has been planted, the corn fields are prepared, the calves are all shedding their fluffy winter coats, our three-legged cat, Pickles, is enjoying days out in the sunshine (I’m happy to report that he is doing great! He can even climb trees!). Alex has started cutting the grass again, our garden has been tilled, and our seeds are sprouting in our little mini greenhouses. Since we have our own cow, I decided that I should figure out how to use the milk in as many ways as I can. We aren’t milking Cocoa yet, but we do live on a dairy farm and have access to fresh, raw milk. So far, I have made ice cream and it was delicious! I used the raw milk as the heavy whipping cream in the recipe. I have also purchased all of the equipment and ingredients to begin making cow’s milk soap. I’m so excited to try it! I think I’ll try butter while the soap is curing. We are preparing for an auction to benefit the TranSend workers of VMM, which includes Chris. I have been busy crafting a few things to add to the auction as well as coordinating the donations that people have blessed us with. We are also looking forward to the spring ballet recital in a little over a week. Abby, Hannah, and Fizzy are all dancing and really looking forward to the recital. As far as homeschooling, well, we are sort of wrapping up our year. We have successfully completed our end of the year standardized testing and have fulfilled the legal requirements for the state of Virginia. I feel pretty strongly that kids learn all the time. We are not doing any structured learning, but we have a book club meeting coming up, we are purposefully learning about things that interest us, like the clouds, homesteading, bee keeping, African birds, the list goes on. As we prepare to plant our own gardens, we are learning about plants and gardening. After such a long winter, it is certainly a wonderful time of year!

As we continue to learn and grow, I realize that even though springtime has arrived in Virginia, the spiritual winter may continue in my heart for a while yet and that’s okay. These roots are going to have to hold a lot of fruit! I may have shared this verse before, but it is so good for me to hear over and over again. Our pastor shared this with us a while ago, Habakkuk 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Risen Ridge Ministry