Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Battle Cry

Their ranch was up and running, but it was out in the middle of nowhere in Colorado.  The horses were ready and waiting, the plans were made and a few had even enjoyed the experience of having their lives touched in that special way that only a horse can.  But the weariness of separation had worn David and Josie thin.  Being so far away from the city had cut off the very children they wanted to serve.  But God has a way of opening doors even when our eyes can only see brick walls.
More land.  Although there’s only a finite amount of it out there, God owns it all!  David and Josie were drawn to a raw piece of wilderness just outside Denver.  Leafless Aspens covered the hillsides and the untouched wilderness drew them in deeper and deeper.  While standing in the middle of the very creation of God you can feel His breath of hope all around you, surrounding you with a peace that is hard to explain with mere words.  While all the rest of creation was brought forth with only the spoken words of God, man was created by His hands and we hold inside us the very breath of God that gives us life.  No wonder the wind speaks so fluidly to our spirits.
Praying over the land was the only reasonable response to the new call of God on David and Josie.  They called their friends, Troy and Kim Meeder, and explained the situation to them, their desperate desire to give hope to hurting children by building relationships with horses.  Troy and Kim have inspired and led and mentored so many other people in this call and it seemed only logical to come and help them in this attempt to call on the Creator and ask for His guidance and His provision.
Troy and Kim Meeder live outside of Bend, Oregon, in the once barren cinder pit that is now Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.  They bought the only piece of property they could afford, the cinder pit that no one else wanted.  With all the money they had saved up for a home, they were driven to spend that nest egg on water.  The water table was 800 feet below the surface of this rocky, barren soil and took their savings to reach it.  They hooked to a manufactured home, drug it up those dismal slopes and began to see with eyes of hope that God was capable of anything He chooses, in any place He chooses as long as He has the full and faithful attention of willing hearts.  Seventeen years later, you would never dream that this place was anything less than the picture of perfection you see when you come up the driveway to Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.  However, just as God taught His own children to remember back to that time when He rescued them from their prison, Troy and Kim were careful to leave the back of that cinder pit just like they found it.  Those rocky slopes stand looking over the ranch as a reminder that with God, nothing is impossible. 
No wonder Josie chose to call on Troy and Kim.  They had already been through so many of the same burdens and emotions in their beginning.  Who better to call on to pray with them?
As they walked with Troy and Kim on the prospective property, the spirit of God blew through those lifeless trees.  The cold of winter had come and the land was lying fast asleep, with the hope of spring deep beneath the surface.  The rolling hills were steep and the raw wilderness that stretched out before them spoke with crystal clarity to Kim.  The call of the wilderness was deep inside her and the land seemed to call her, to draw her out into itself.  The group split up and began to walk around this new property, praying for God to reveal Himself to them and to make His will known to each and every one of them.  And He did.
Being alone in the wilderness was the most natural, most comfortable place on earth for Kim.  The peace and quiet of the creation spoke to her in the most familiar tones and it reached deep into the very heart of her.  The sun would glint through the bare trees and cast shadows on the dry grass, the breeze would wrap itself around her and set her spirit completely free.  Although the structures of the wilderness were trees and rocks, it is in the wilderness that Kim feels truly at home.  There are treasures to be found in the wilderness that would make even the most novice boy scout stand tall and proud at their finding.  Old limbs in the shape of weapons.  Leaves that fell perfectly from their home among the treetops without so much as a scratch on their flight to the earth.  Smooth rocks lying in the bed of creek with the story of peace etched deep inside it.  Only could that smooth stone could truly understand that resting in the turmoil that is a river produces eyes that see peace rushing around it. 
Kim was especially fond of the treasures she could find in the wilderness.  Her senses remained on high alert as she sought out treasures of God in her spirit and treasures in the wilderness with her eyes.  Her spirit-foot was grounded!  Grounded in the Word of God so that even in the midst of all the beauty before her God could gently remind her of the promises He’d made to her.  Her natural foot was grounded, too.  She knew both the beauty and the danger around her and respected them equally.  In looking upward and outward she was ready for whatever treasure was lying before her.  And there it was.  Lying under the cover of the leaves and grass she found the most incredible and exhilarating tip of a shed horn!  Kim saw everything as a gift and this shed horn was no different!  Brushing the leaves away from her new-found treasure Kim quickly discovered that this was much, much more than a shed horn.  Those amazing horns were attached to an enormous buck!  This was a kill that had not been retrieved.  This buck had escaped his killer and died alone under this cover.  Kim lifted the heavy head of the buck and was able to separate the antlers from the decayed skull of the magnificent beast.  What a treasure!
A long cherished tradition for Kim was treasure finding.  Unlike most, though, rather than tucking her treasures inside and keeping them only for herself, Kim looked to God - her covenant God - and asked Him quickly and quietly what He wanted to share with her through this find.  She prayed, earnestly seeking for a clear meaning behind the buck’s sacrifice.  And God answered her.  The horns are a gift for Josie.  They are a sign to her of the sacrifices made on this land.  So Kim immediately found Josie and relayed the message of the horns to her, and the blessing was passed from one faithful hand to the next.
But the prayer walk over the land wasn’t even close to being finished. Kim set out again on her way, seeking out treasures in the wilderness.  Walking carefully, pausing to pray, asking for direction, seeking holy guidance for David and Josie and the call on their life.  The Word says that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.  And that was never more true than for Kim on this prayer walk.  
She found another horn.  Only the tip of the treasure shone through the grass.  There was no way to know how large this horn was, but Kim quickly reached down and saw that this was a shed horn from an elk.  Time and other animals had worn down a few of the tines so this wasn’t a perfect horn.  The base of the horn had been buried a little deeper in the ground so the front two projections were near perfect and sharp as knives.  When held up, this new treasure was about 30 inches in length from base to tip.  Smiling from ear to ear would not have described the joy of this adventurous little tomboyish girl, trapped in the body of a full grown woman.  Celebrating the find and then quickly thanking God for it was a perfectly normal progression for Kim.  And as she looked downward, the blessing, this time, was to be two fold!  There it was, the completion of the work - the other horn!  Also a little worn, one of the middle tines had been used as a calcium supplement for a passing animal, but completion nonetheless.  She had found a matching set of elk antlers.  The crown glory of one of God’s amazing animals. 
Kim, again, thanked her dear Father for the gift and sought out the answer to the meaning behind the blessing.  She held up this crown above her own head and rejoiced in being the daughter of the King of Kings.  Who but God would place a crown on a beast?  Who but God would have that beast lay down his own crown yearly with the ritual shedding, only to replace it with a much stronger one?
But there was a strong sense of something else going on.  Kim began to feel a presence around her that could only be described as evil.  Turning slowly to her left, with the horns still in her own hands, Kim looked and saw evil staring her in the face.  It was a mountain lion, lying on his belly, crouched near a broken tree.  In all the years of walking through the wild lands of Oregon, Kim and Troy had seen all manner of wild animals - bears, snakes, other wild cats - but never once had they seen a mountain lion.  This creature was not here by mistake, he was here on a mission.  Kim was on his territory and had just placed herself directly in his line of attack.  He crouched without so much as a breath, waiting on her very next move.  His eyes never left her and with a quiet, still patience that only a predator possesses, he waited. 
The spirit of the living God fell fast on Kim and her years of experience in the wilderness quickly rushed into focus for her.  “This is your enemy!” the Spirit of God spoke.  “If you turn and walk away, pretending he’s not there, you will be devoured.  If you stand still and face him, he will revel in a frontal attack and destroy you.  If you will trust me with the weapons I have provided you will defeat him.”
With that instruction Kim raised the weapons she had in her hands, the treasured horns she’d just received as a gift!  One above her to the right, the other above her head to the left and Kim suddenly became a foe to be reckoned with.  With a primal shout she took one step forward directly toward the enemy.  And with that step, he never flinched!  The prey he sought to destroy wasn’t going to shoo him away like some frightened house cat.  He had set his mind on destroying her and wouldn’t be put off by her first attempt to defend herself.  
Again, raising her weapons heavenward, Kim lunged forward and shouted again at her enemy.  His response was to hold his ground and he fixed his gaze even more solidly on his prize.  Her options were few.  Kim could lunge forward one more time and would be standing at the mouth of this enemy or she could lay down her weapons and surrender.  To try to run from him would be useless and to stand still and just wait him out would ensure her defeat.  To attack him was the only option she had.
Where was her mind while she was standing face to face with her enemy?  Most would be paralyzed with fear.  Many would crumble to the ground under the weight of the decision she had been forced to make.  But God, in His infinite wisdom had chosen to use this most dangerous situation to wrap His child in peace!  Where there is peace, fear cannot exist!  And this peace was the firm footing on which a child of God would stand and fight with everything in her, and with the weapons she had been given, to accomplish a work that had been set before her.
So with that, weapons in her hands and peace beneath her feet, she shouted and raised the antlers high in the air and stepped with one more powerful step toward the predator!  He finally responded.  He slipped back into the grass and fled.  The enemy was defeated and Kim’s life was spared.
As her heart pounded with fresh air and blood to every single cell in her body, Kim once again cried out to God to thank Him.  He heard her cry and quickly wrapped her in those arms of love that only a child of the King would recognize.  “Kim, I have a message for you, now.  Defend My land!  The enemy is ready to attack and poised to do so.  He is destroying families and killing the children.  Husbands and wives are being torn to shreds at his ruthless hands, hearts are being stolen away, and minds are being destroyed with fear and doubt.  Defend My land!  Look in your hands and see what I have already provided.  You have everything you need to defeat this enemy, but you must stand strong!  You must fight!  There are those who will be offended by truth, but you must fight.  There are those who will stand on the side of the enemy to fight against you with him.  But you must fight.”
As her tears drenched the precious ground beneath her feet, Kim realized that this message wasn’t just for her.  Her husband and her friends rested at the meeting point, wondering what amazing things Kim had found, but she wrestled alone with the words of her Lord and the instructions He had given.  This was a cry that would have to go out to all believers.  “Look at what the Lord has already provided!  Hold your weapons in your hands and fight!  The battle is already won, but the war is all around you!!”
I recently found myself sitting near Kim Meeder as she relayed this story to those of us who had come to their ranch in Bend.  They shared with us wisdom from God’s word, vision about the future of our own calls of God, and encouragement to keep pressing on.  But on hearing this battle cry my heart was armed with a charge to keep pressing on.  The war is raging for my own family and my home.  The hearts of my own children must be defended.  The love I have for my husband must be strengthened and covered in armor so that the enemy will be unable to destroy what God has created.  The men and women and children who come to our ranch must be protected against the invisible enemy of their soul who is trying to steal their lives and destroy everything around them.

I have heard the call from God to “defend the land” and I have chosen to take on that charge for my life and my family.  I have chosen to arm myself for battle with the weapons that God Himself has especially fitted for me.  I will arm myself, first, with His Word.  I will take that weapon that is a sharp, two edged sword and I will use it to attack the enemy and defend His land.  I will take the gifts and talents that God has given and I will draw them out and use them to pull those who are weak near to me and teach them to be strong.  I will use faithfully each and every horse that comes my way to show that God is the God of relationship and by submitting to His authority alone will there be the rest and peace that every human so fiercely desires.  I will use my marriage to show other women that submitting myself completely to my husband only makes me stronger, shows him the respect that he was built to thrive on, and allows God to work more freely in our lives.  I will use every single hurt that I’ve experienced in my life as a testimony of the faith I have in the God who has never once left me or abandoned me.  I  will use my home as a refuge for those who are hurting from being in this battle, to feed those who are hungry for His Word, and to shelter those who are lost.
I am thankful to God that the battle is already won.  I am thankful that the enemy has already been defeated and that Jesus Christ will soon reign forever, with every knee bowing and every single tongue confessing that He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  To Him alone be glory forever and ever. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch visit

With Graduation 2012 in the books and the most amazing show of prayer support by our friends behind us, Tuesday morning... very early Tuesday morning... rolled around and I was on board the Oregon-bound plane.  Destination:  Bend, Oregon, and Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.  After a couple of uneventful flights (my favorite kind, by the way) and a really long car ride, I found myself arriving at my hotel in Bend.  Have you ever been to the high desert in Oregon?  It's the most beautiful landscape you've ever seen!

I landed in Portland, near the Pacific Coast and traveled through the mountains up to the high desert area of Bend.  At 4500 feet, the air is a little thinner and the terrain a lot dryer.  They say it never rains there, and the evidence is that every single square foot of ground is being watered day and night by irrigation.  The week prior to our visit the weather was a beautiful 80 degrees.  However, our arrival seemed have brought all manner of crazy weather and we were in for 40 degrees and 2 1/2 days of rain!  But we could've seen hail the size of cantaloupes and it wouldn't have held us back!  God had chosen to move 130 of us crazy horse people up to the 'high desert' and a team of wild ones couldn't move us out of there!

The directions on our information email asked that we not show up at the ranch on Wednesday before 1:00pm so that they would be ready to give us a proper greeting.  I was up at the crack of dawn so I wanted to make sure I could find my way... yes, I cheated just a little bit!  I didn't go all the way in, though, I just stopped to make sure I had found the right place.

 I'd like to share with you some pictures I took while I was there and I'll try to explain them as we go.   (I hope the pics don't bore you to death... I think they speak way more clearly than I!)

This is the "barn" we were in for all of our classes for the week.  You'll notice a stovepipe coming up out of the roof of the building!  We had a wood burning stove inside and that's the only way those of us "thicker" girls could stay warm during those cold days!  This was our first day, though, and it was absolutely beautiful.  You'll notice, too, that the entire place is covered in wood chips!  It makes for a fabulous terrain.

While we were in this barn we began each of our sessions with a worship time, and Troy Meeder and his right hand man, Marshall helped lead us all in a time of praise and worship songs.  It was great!  We kept saying that it was like adult church camp!!

If you turned directly around from where I took the picture of the barn and headed back right, up the hill, you'd see just this.  The building to the far left in this pic is of a new structure that will soon be Troy's new office.  Just up the hill to the right is the 'round pen', and then at the top of that hill is "Independence Arena".  The arena was built by Kim and friends over a 4th of July weekend especially for Troy while he was away doing a horse clinic.  It's an amazing arena and inside that space is where the relationships between the leaders and the horses at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch are born!

This is the tack room!  Within the walls of this structure lie the most incredibly organized tools you have likely ever seen.  Each horse has his/her own bridle, labeled with a small wooden "plaque" that has been colored by the hand of one of the kids who visit the ranch.  The saddles and pads are also labeled, not by horse, but by size.  Depending on the size of your "seat" (to put it nicely), its always best you have a "seat holder" that fits the job at hand!  At Crystal Peaks they use synthetic saddles because they are very light and easier for the smaller children to handle, especially as they are learning how to properly dress their horses for riding.

Here's another pic from inside the front gate of Independence Arena.  You will notice the fencing that's used at Crystal Peaks.  They made the fencing out of posts and they are bolted together and sit atop the ground.  Because the ranch is situated on what was once an old cinder pit, the ground is almost pure rock and digging postholes is extremely difficult.  This fencing is not only incredibly attractive to look at, but is very safe for the horses.

Independence Arena from the top side, looking back toward the front of the ranch and to the Cascade Mountains in the background!  Can you imagine waking up in the morning and seeing snowcapped mountains out your window... IN MAY?????

Our first love, of course, was the horses!  The staff had come in ahead of us that morning and done a little artwork on them!  Crystal Peaks has several different goals as a part of their mission:  Rescue, Empower, and Hope are a part of it.  When you see those words painted on the sides of the horses who have lived out the story of Hope, those who have been Rescued or Redeemed, and those who's story is now used to Empower everyone that sets foot on this little ranch, you can't help but be moved.

If you are interested in reading more about Troy and Kim Meeder and learning about their incredible story, and the stories of these horses, I would encourage you to read Kim's books.  You can find them online at  That afternoon when I first opened the link my friend Marguerite sent to me, I ordered all three of Kim's books on my Kindle!  After reading the stories of the horses and knowing what had happened to them, and then seeing them as Kim and her staff led them into this smaller arena, tears ran down my face again.  I was meeting the "stars" of her life!  Out of their tragic lives and horrific stories were born the redemptive, hopeful new stories they were creating in the lives of the children that come to Crystal Peaks.

Meet Little Bear.  Little Bear is a draft horse cross.  He is the product of a well known Canadian industry called the PMU program.  PMU stands for pregnant mare urine.  These very large, extremely docile horses are used, mainly in Canada, for the prime purpose of collecting the valuable urine used to make the drug you may know as Premarin... a hormone replacement used by women during menopause.  They use these large draft mares for the sheer volume of urine they are able to produce.  Once a mare is pregnant, they confine her to a stall that's only a couple of feet larger than the mare herself.  She's fed and water and then the urine is collected by either an internal or external catheter-like contraption.  They have a gestation period of about 11 months, their foal is born and they are immediately re-bred so that the cycle of urine collection can continue on.  The foals are simply by-products of the entire system.

When a little filly (female) is born, she can be turned back in and used in the program when she's old enough to breed.  The colts (males), however, are of no use and are turned out as quickly as possible.  They will turn the weanlings (at about 3 months old) out into a lot so that they can be sold.  Those who are not able to be sold, are most usually destroyed.

Kim has a friend that lives nearby and she travels every year with a huge trailer in an effort to get her hands on these young colts.  The nearly 1000 mile trek to Canada has all sorts of hazards that go along with such a trip, but on one particular trip she found herself in the midst of a miracle.

Kim's friend went to the sale, planning to carry about 100 of the young colts on her trailer back to her farm in Oregon.  She looked through the lot and found, crushed in the middle of the herd, a very small buckskin colt.  He was absolutely filthy and looked to be injured, but because of the dirt that was caked all over him there was no way to really know for sure.  As a part of the selection and approval process for the colts, they were required to pass a couple of vet inspections before they could leave the lot.  The little buckskin was in the center of the herd and Kim's friend knew she had to try to help him.  As they were making their selections, she pointed out the young buckskin and he was passed on through the first inspection.  Two more to go!

The next vet check was going to be on the way in the trailer.  Because there were so many horses to sort through and so little time to do it, I suppose the vet at this checkpoint was just "eyeballing" them and letting them on through, too.  So, up on the trailer he went, crushed in the middle of the rest of his herd.  If he was injured, Kim's friend only prayed that he could survive the ride home.  She knew exactly who could help this frail little thing if anyone could... Troy and Kim!

The checkpoint next was customs.  Would you believe that the injured little man passed through there, too?  And although it went against every "rule" it was almost as if those charged with keeping the sick, lame and injured horses from passing out of Canada and into the United States had been blinded, somehow, to the little buckskin colt that could.

I'm sure you are wondering about the injury that he had sustained and what made this draft horse remain so much smaller than the rest of the weanlings his own age....

Soon after the colts were turned into the lot at the back of the PMU farm, guarded only by a thin fence that held them in, there was a bear attack.  The bear came over the fence and landed with both paws tearing at the hindquarters of the little buckskin colt.  The tears were to both "hips" and went down toward his hocks.  For reasons unknown, the little colt lived and the bear left the lot.  His wounds were deep and his pain must have been excruciating, but the little colt survived.  As he lay in the lot his wounds were covered in mud, perhaps saving his life.  Although that would probably not be the first choice for dressing a wound by a veterinarian, it worked long enough to stop the bleeding and allow the mud to dry into a sort of pack that held his torn flesh in place.

When the little colt arrived safely in the US he was taken directly to Kim's vet.  They looked him over and couldn't imagine how he had survived that attack, much less the 1000 mile haul to Oregon.  But he did.  And to this day, Little Bear's story of remarkable persistence and unbelievable odds has inspired hundreds of children to push through their circumstances and to hold on and wait on God!

If you look closely you can see that the scares from his attacker are still very evident.  He is not lame, but he carries with him the scars that could've killed him.  Thankfully they are behind him and all he sees today are the loving hands of little kids who can't imagine that this gentle giant would want to be their friend.  Little Bear truly is an inspiration and his story will live on forever because of Crystal Peaks.

Troy and Kim bought the piece of land that no one else wanted.  This old cinder pit was covered in the small red lava rock that you see in this photo.  The entire 8.9 acre lot looked exactly like this!  When they took the land that no one else wanted, they spent their entire savings on water.  The well they had to dig was over 800 feet below the surface of this desolate piece of land and it took everything they had to find it.  So because of the cost of the well, Troy and Kim had to buy a mobile home instead of building their dream home on the land.  But God had given Kim a vision for this place and nothing was going to stop her.  Her love for horses... and Troy's love for her... were forces that, when combined with the power of God and prayer, have proven unstoppable!

Troy was a landscaping contractor and has an amazing gift for seeing what can be out of what isn't.  Their property was blessed by his vision and ability.  While at a job site just after they had purchased their "farm", there was a fire that had consumed most of the trees that they were going to use on a big job they were working on.  The foreman of that job told Troy to haul them off because the little pine trees were destroyed and they would have to be replaced.  Troy asked the foreman if he could take them home with him instead and was told to "go for it".

When he arrived home with the crispy young trees, he noticed that deep within the charred crust of the young trees was the whitish green sign of life that he suspected might be there.  He hauled in some good soil, nursed the young trees back to life and they are the pine trees that stand over Crystal Peaks to this day.

What do you have to work with?  Troy and Kim had land that no one wanted.  They had rocky soil that couldn't spring forth water and trees that had been thrown away as refuse.   They had horses that had been left for dead, abused, shot, attacked... horses that were never loved.  And they had a God that chose to use just what they had to help minister hope to kids who were hurting.  Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard?

In the photo above you can see the back of the farm.  This area is at the top of the hill that makes up Crystal Peaks.  You can see the rocks are still there, just as Troy and Kim found them.  There's a fence there, just to keep the horses safe, but other than that, this is the cinder pit as they found it.  Troy and Kim chose to leave this area for a purpose.  It's the memorial to them that "With God, nothing is impossible".  Do you believe that?  Just like the scars that will follow Little Bear around for the rest of his life, and just like the red lava rock hill that the Meeders call home, do you have a place you can look back to and say that you know for sure that God is there?

God told His own children, the Israelites, to built altars and memorials all the time.  He knew that once He brought them through a hard time they would keep moving forward and never look back.  He knew that once their trials were over they might have a tendency to forget about the miracles He'd done for them.  He rescued them from an evil Pharaoh.  He allowed them to escape from Egypt.  He parted an entire sea and allowed them to cross on dry land.  Over and over again God would rescue them and before you could bat an eye, they were right back in the middle of whining and crying over their next little boo-boo.

But before you think I'm being too hard on the poor children of Israel, please know that I've been right there with 'em!  Oh, I've thanked God plenty for getting me out of a jam here and there!  But I'll be John Brown if I don't take a couple of steps doing things my way and focusing my eyes back on what ole Rhonda wants and forget all about what God did for me.

Oh, that God would forgive me for forgetting His mercy and grace in my life!  This "blog" is my way of building an altar.  I know it's probably not exactly what God had in mind when He was instructing the Israelites to "remember"... but I can't afford a billboard right now and I want to share His mercy with as many people as a I possibly can!!!

Troy and Kim's story has resonated with me in such a way that I want to make every effort to carry out the call of God on our life, too.  I know that our God is more than able to have His way and His will be done in the live of hurting people here, just like He's reaching hurting people in Oregon.  If He choses to use horses or a farm or Paul and me to do it, so be it!

I am so thankful that God has opened this door up for us and I'm as eager and anxious as ever to see what tomorrow holds for Whispering Pines Ranch.  Some of you are starting to see that our God is still alive and that He really does have plans!  I've been asked already if we are taking donations... people are wanting to be a part of what God is doing for the kids here in Mississippi, too!

I'm going to ask for help tonight in our blog.  I'm going to ask you to earnestly seek God in prayer and ask Him to make clear to Paul and me HIS plan and HIS will for Whispering Pines Ranch.  He told us that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much" and we are believing it!

Thank you for your patience and for enduring my ramblings!  Perseverance is surely your spiritual gift!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prayer Walk

"Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:6-9

Well, here we are, sitting on the most beautiful farm on the planet (to us, anyway), with our hands tied and without a job.  How easy would it be for us to go into our usual "fix it" mode and start hunting the panic button?  Extremely easy!!!  We are thinkers and fixers and we could certainly come up with some way to "make it".  But everything in us was pointing back to God.  Everywhere we looked we saw that God was in control, not us.  Anything we tried to do on our power was going to end us up in a mess and we were going to be really sorry, again, to have stepped outside of what God had planned for Whispering Pines.

Is it really possible to live out that verse in Philippians?  Is there really any way that God expects us to hear that we are without a job and to NOT be anxious?  How can we possibly "dwell on" things that are true, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise when we don't know how in the world we are going to make it?

BECAUSE.... we have chosen to pray, to tell God about what scares us, to tell Him exactly how thankful we've been for every single day He's chosen to give us out here at the farm, and to ask Him to have His own way with us and everything in our lives.  We chose to pray rather than to be anxious.  There's really a part of me that feels like I should be scared or upset, but God delivered on His promise and He has guarded my heart and mind from those "feelings".  I've lived in want before and I know God was there to provide for me.... so even if we have to leave the farm, now, I know that God will continue to take care of me and my family.

We have moved in our story up to Thursday night.  My parents arrived safely to the farm and we were so very happy to see them!  They brought with  them my precious niece, Taylor Beth, and I can't tell you how excited I was to have them here.  Paul and I talked about whether or not to share this news with them, but we both decided to just hold off and let them celebrate Ryan for now.  We had a great dinner together and a good visit that night... but they were tired and it was time for bed.

Once again, God was in the mood to talk in the middle of the night!  See, He does  know me well enough to know when He can get my undivided attention!!  This time He gave me some specific instructions.  I was told to have a prayer walk at the farm.   Our friends could join with us and cry out to God for His own will to be done on the farm.  Right then and there I got up and went to my computer.  I drafted an email explaining our situation and calling on my friends/family who pray to join us at the farm to walk and pray over the land on the upcoming Monday night.  I asked them to send in Bible verses if they were impressed to do so and that we would have scriptures printed off on pieces of paper that we could pray back to God for that night.

I woke the next morning, with only a couple of hours of sleep under my belt, and bouncing off the walls!  Do you know how very cool it is to get to spend the night awake with God?  That morning I had breakfast for my family and took coffee out to my folks in the yard.  As I carried the coffee out to them, God told me it was time to share this great story with them.  I can't help but cry when I tell the story, but they both knew immediately that the tears were filled with pure joy to know that we were in God's hands and that's the safest place for anyone to be!  They were both so very supportive of me and became actively involved in the warrior "plan of prayer attack".  It seems like the ones I was trying so hard to protect from "bad news" (our friends and my family) were the first ones to gather up their weapons and arm themselves for the fight!

I wish I could include all the emails and calls that I received from my friends about the prayer walk!  I was completely blown away by all the love and support of these precious people.  I will, however, attach a list of the scriptures that were sent to me... whether directly to me by God or friends... so you can use them as a comfort in  your own life.  The greatest thing about God's word is that it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword!  It really is the greatest weapon we have to fight through this battle called life that we are in.

When the word went out inviting my friends to come and pray with us I fully understood how very busy everyone is and that at such short notice there might only be about 4 or 5 of them that could come.  We surely weren't expecting everyone to come out there just for us... but God told me to invite them and I did.

Monday was a little bit of a rough day.  Sam went home with Mom and Pops to Oklahoma.  My flight to Bend, Oregon was set for very early on Tuesday morning, so they were going to help us out by taking care of Sam while I was gone.  Seeing them leave is always a bit of a heartbreak for me.  I know we have to be separated by miles... but that never makes it much easier on my heart!  So they left that morning and Paul and I worked around the farm, taking care of the horses and getting things ready for me to be gone for those next few days.

That evening at about 6:20pm, we were still there, under a cloudy sky, waiting to see if anyone would be able to come out and pray with us over our farm.  I had made copies of the scriptures that we were going to use and they were ready to hand out to those who wanted to use them.  And then just before 6:30pm it happened... we looked down our driveway and we saw cars coming in with their lights on.  I don't know if you remember the old movie, Field of Dreams, but that's exactly what it reminded me of! Our friends were coming to be with us and to ask God's blessing on this place!!!  We were completely overwhelmed.  There were about 30 people out here that night!  We met over by the corner of Legacy's corral and handed out the scriptures that they had all sent in.  Then we talked with everyone and told them they could stay here as long as they wanted, or if they could only stay a few minutes before they had to go, that would be fine, too.  We explained to them so they would clearly understand that we were not asking for prayer to "save the farm" for Rhonda and Paul.  Our single focus was that God's will be done!  Whatever He has for this place is our one desire.  Whoever He has to do the work is who we will support.  Dr. Mayfield prayed briefly for us as a group and then everyone began to silently walk over the entire 60 acres of Whispering Pines Ranch.

I mentioned the cloudy evening earlier... Cloudy and still is so very common here.  In Oklahoma, the "wind comes sweeping down the plains" on a regular, daily basis.  But in Mississippi, if the wind picks up its usually the sign of a storm!  But not on this night!  As we held hands together in that circle of prayer, and as Dr. Mayfield began to call on God to bless this place, a soft breeze began to blow over us.  I have a couple of precious warriors who felt it, too.  Sandy and Barbara came to me after we were finished to asked if I'd felt it or not.  I want you to know that people usually find what they are looking for... and my sisters and I were looking for the face of God.  On this night, we found Him.  On this night, He was so close that He breathed on us!

My walk carried me directly to the front gate of Whispering Pines Ranch.  My focus was to pray over every single person that would ever come down that road, that God would touch them with His Peace and give them the Hope that they were desperately seeking.  At the entrance to the farm there's a sign that reads "Whispering Pines Ranch", and beneath it Joell and I have made a little flower bed.  Back behind the sign is a stand of pine trees that belong to the landowners adjacent to us.  I stood there, as quietly as I could, and I heard it for the first time.  As the breath of God came across those trees I could hear them whisper!  Until then I had never understood the name of the farm we'd acquired... but now I know.  "Cease striving and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10  Some versions say "be still and know that I am God."  Either way, He whispered comfort and peace into my life that evening... causing me to be still and to cease striving!  I KNOW THAT HE IS GOD!

A very special 'thank you' to my friend and photographer, Traci Massey, for being there to pray with us and record some of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen in my life!  To know that so many people came to be in the presence of God at this farm means more to me than these feeble words of mine will ever be able to express.  

Our battle here is not over.  We are sitting here today without answers from God about the details regarding our future.  We are moving forward every day, caring for the horses and the land, but we do not know what the future holds for our family.  However, we are excited about all the things that God is continuing to show us, and that He's willing to confirm daily that He is God and He is, in fact, in complete control.

Be encouraged today by the Prayer Walk Scriptures that were and are still being prayed over Whispering Pines Ranch.  Take the Word into your own life and know that God's promises are for all His children:

Prayer Walk Scriptures
1 Chronicles 4:10  Now Jabez called on the God of Isreal, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!”  And God granted him what he requested.
1 Kings 18:37  “Answer me, O Lord, answer me that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God.
James 5:11  We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
1 Peter 1:6  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
Job 39: 19-25      "Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?  Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?  He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.  He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;  he does not shy away from the sword.  The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.   In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.  At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, 'Aha!' He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. 
 Acts 16:31  They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 
1 Samuel 25:6  Say to him: 'Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to tear down and a time to build.
1 Samuel 7:12  "Thus far the LORD has helped us".
Psalm 40:3  "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD."
Psalm 37: 3-11    Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.  Cease from anger and forsake wrath;  Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.  For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.  Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.  But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
Psalm 126:5-6  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with them.
Psalm 40:17  Since I am afflicted and needy, let the Lord be mindful of me.  You are my help and my deliverer.  Do not delay, O my God.
Philippians 1:6  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:12  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that HE is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Psalm 34:1-22  I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice.  O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.  I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.  They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.  The poor man cried, and the Lord heard Him and saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.  O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!  O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want.  The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.  Come, you children, listen to me;  I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good?  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.  The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.  The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.  The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.  Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.  The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.    AMEN!!!!!!
Psalm 1: 1-3      How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by steams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither;  and in whatever he does, he prospers. 
Psalm 5:11-12     But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.  For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.
Isaiah 55: 6-12  Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing see to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My WORD be which goes froth from My mouth; IT WILL NOT RETURN TO ME EMPTY WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING WHAT I DESIRE, AND WITHOUT SUCCEEDING IN THE MATTER FOR WHICH I SENT IT.  You will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Psalm 71:5  For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.
1 John 5:14-15  This is the confidence that we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Peace like a river!

There's a certain rhythm to a living on a farm.  There are chores to be done and its almost like the rhythm of it is such a comforting thing and something to long for.  You know that every single morning of the world there are things to do, animals waiting on you to care for them.  Without you being there and doing the 'chores', their life is worse instead of better.  It really is a great way to live!  Before your feet hit the floor every day, you have to lay aside all your own selfish desires and look forward to attending to someone other than the Almighty ME.

Spring, this year was packed!  With Ryan graduating and with all the end of the year banquets to cater, our calendar was completely full.  And as always, God knows exactly what He's doing... an empty calendar would have been the biggest disaster of all for us this year.

May 2012 was especially full.  I worked non-stop on the yard trying to get it ready for the big day.  Ryan had asked me earlier in the fall about having their Prom Dinner here at the farm instead of "going to some dumb restaurant".  I was tickled completely pink to have him ask that of me!!  I looked forward to that one dinner for months and months.  Being able to serve him and some of his friends was just about the highlight of my catering career.

You can tell by the sky what kind of night we had!  But the kids didn't complain one bit.  I had to rearrange some things to make it happen, but they were completely gracious about the changes and seemed to all have a great time.  

The very next week was graduation.  So we had a lot of work to do, still, to get ready for that.  But work is what we do best on the farm!  Monday came and went and we got almost everything marked off our list that needed to be done.  We were going to have some company and it was the best company ever!

My parents were going to come down for graduation and stay with us for a few days.  And Ryan's Dad, his Bonus Mom, his brother Josh and Josh's new fiance, Aubree, were also going to come down and join in the celebration with us.  Graduation was going to be on Friday night, so everyone was planning on being here on Thursday or early Friday.  All the details were moving along nicely.

I had a dinner to cater on Tuesday night up in Jones County.  So, as I usually do things, the day before an event is when I prepare as much of the food as I can ahead of time so that I can cook on the day of the event.  There were only 140 people for this one, so it wasn't much of a time drain to prep on that Monday.  Then Tuesday rolled around and we were ready to roll.

I was in the catering kitchen (herein referred to as "The Lucy Kitchen") and things were rolling along as planned.  Right up until 2:48pm!  I was right in the middle of getting the food from the ovens so I could load and pull out for the banquet by 3:30pm.  I had been in the middle of a phone call when Ryan came up to the Lucy kitchen and handed me his phone.  He said, "Paul needs to talk to you, its an emergency."

My heart began to sink and I took the phone.  I stood there in silence as he relayed to me the events he had encountered over the past several minutes.   Ryan stood there with me and watched as I heard the news and began to cry.  Without going into too many personal details for the sake of this blog, the news was that Paul was going to be without a job, effective in July.

As I heard my husband relay that news to me, I felt as if we had been hit in our gut with a huge sucker punch!  The very first thoughts that ran through my mind were that all that God had started on this farm was going to be over.  Without Paul's job we simply wouldn't be able to keep this place and keep up the work that God had started.

My precious son stood there and held me in his arms as I cried and tried to process all that I had just heard.  Only 3 days before his own graduation, this is certainly not the kind of thing he should've had to see or be a part of.  And because of the time and the fact that I had 140 people waiting on their banquet to be served, I had to move quickly and get ready to serve those people.  It was time to go down to our house, shower and leave for the event.

The walk down to the house seemed to take forever.  My knees almost shook beneath me and I wondered how in the world this could possibly be happening to us.  We had been obedient to God in every single thing we knew to be direction from Him.  He had gone to pretty amazing lengths to get us to this place and now we were not going to be able to keep up our end of the "deal".

When I walked into our house there was a complete shift.  Walking through that door seemed to open the floodgates of heaven!  The peace of God that I've talked about so many times washed over me like a flood!  My tears were gone.  My knees no longer wobbled beneath me, my feet seemed to find solid footing and the promises of God raced to the front of my memory.  "I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for welfare and not for harm.  Plans to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11.  Truth can be found only in God's Word. 

God quieted my spirit and assured me at that moment that we were not under any kind of attack from man or from the enemy.  He showed me how a door had been opened for us.  He reminded me that "His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts."  What looked to be meant for our harm, was about to be used for our good.  And I chose to believe God.

I spoke to Paul off and on over the next several hours as he made his way home from work, and as I left home to cater that banquet.  His spirit sounded crushed and that broke my heart.  I tried as best as I could via telephone, to comfort him and encourage him, but being separated from him during this time was ripping my heart out.

I came home from the banquet and found Paul sitting in our den, having finished reading his Bible.  He had been setting in there and said he couldn't think of anything else to do but to seek God in His word.  And guess where God led my husband?  Isaiah 55!

"Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and let the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.  For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.  For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of a thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."  Isaiah 55: 6-13

Are YOU shouting?!  I was!  Our God started a work and as a Promise Keeping God, He is more than able to finish what He starts.  Sure, we were hurting.  We didn't understand what was happening.  But what we did do was trust that the One who began a good work in us was going to finish it.

We made it through that long night and my wonderful husband did the only thing he knew to do the next morning;  he woke up, just like he had for the past 22 years of his service, and he got ready for work.  His spirit was wounded, but he was going to do the next right thing and that meant going to work.  I walked him outside that morning and tried to encourage him as he got into the truck to leave.  He was parked in such a way that he was facing out to the small corral where we had our expectant mare, Daisy.  We had been watching her for a month, awaiting the arrival of her foal.  As I spoke to Paul that Wednesday morning before he left for work, he looked over to find Daisy standing in the corner of her pen.  After a closer look by Paul, he said, "Rhonda, she's having that baby."

Barefooted and excited I ran back into the house to get my camera and to tell Sam the good news!  He, too, ran out to the  corral barefooted so he could watch the miracle take place.  After months of caring for Daisy we were so excited to finally get to watch this miracle of life unfold before our very eyes.

Daisy was, just one year prior, a member of an incredible group of horses.  She had been purchased, along with 7 other horses, from a breeder in central Mississippi.  The man responsible for purchasing them had the money to pay for them but lacked either the experience or the knowledge to properly care for them.  He had a job that took him away from home for extended periods of time, so he chose to lock all 8 of his horses inside a fifty-foot round pen and leave them to survive on their own.  One of the horses lost his battle for survival and died there within the safety of the herd.  The remaining members of the herd, including Daisy, hung on without food and water, with one of their members dead inside the pen, until someone finally found them and reported them to the authorities.  Daisy and the other six horses, now known as the "Jones County Lucky 7", were seized by the Jones County Sheriff's Department and taken to another facility where they could be rehabilitated.  While there, Daisy and the rest of the herd were given the nutrition and veterinary care they needed to get back into good health.  And evidently Daisy was healthy enough to also be bred by one of the stud horses that was at that facility.  (NOTE:  we still don't know the sire of this colt, so stay tuned to the outcome!)

At a time when all of our world seemed to be falling down in front of our eyes, God allowed us to be a part of another of His most amazing creations, life.  We sat there together and watched as our miracle came to us, delivered in pain and through struggle, but alive and well and beautiful.  The promise of God was right before our very eyes.

This amazing little colt was on the ground in just a few minutes and I was able to be with him from the very beginning.  There's a process known as imprinting that helps newborn colts overcome so many of the fears that they will face as they grow older.  When we touch their ears, nose, mouth and hooves as soon as they are born, they are set free from the fear that they will someday face when they have to be 'handled' by their humans.  This little man was handled all over and was up and getting busy with his new life in only a few minutes.  It seemed that Daisy had never foaled before as she was reluctant to let him nurse for the first time.  I took a halter and held her so that she would stand still long enough for him to nurse for a few minutes.  She did and he did and we've never looked back since!

Naming him was another matter altogether!  Paul came home that night from work and began to call him Banjo.  BANJO!  That reminded me of some terrible movie having to do with deliverance!  May it never be.  Paul wasn't against me naming the baby colt, but he did tell me that until I named him we were going to call him Banjo.

Friends.  My precious friend, Joell, had come up with a name early on in the game for Daisy's baby... Dollop!  Get it?  A Dollop o' Daisy?!  She cracks me up.  And while Dollop is the cutest thing ever for a wet little baby, when the little bit grows up and weighs 1200 pounds, Dollop might need a little something something to get him through the trauma of his own name.

I hate to jump ahead but for sake of this writing I'll let you know that God had a special name in mind for this baby.  I was out mowing the grass and God shared with me that we had a legacy of faith now that was going to carry on for generations because of the work He had done and was doing at this farm.  So we named him Legacy.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Legacy.  He is the breath of fresh air that we so desperately needed, just at the time we needed him.  His long legs, quick feet and blue eyes are there to draw every new person that comes to Whispering Pines closer to him.  God even has a purpose for this little colt.

Now, back to finish the story for today....

Our world was rocked by the news of Paul's job, company was coming to celebrate Ryan's graduation with our family, and the test of our faith was really on.  Paul and I talked about it a little bit but decided that we probably shouldn't tell anyone about what had happened to us.  We 'figured' that we didn't want to be a burden to all our friends and family and that they would only worry.  We knew that God had a plan and that He alone could really do what was necessary to complete the work He had started.

Then all our 'figuring' went out the window.  We are involved in a Bible study class together on Wednesday nights at our church.  Our Vet/Sunday School teacher, Dr. Mayfield and his wife Sandy, are leading our class.  That night, as we sat in our class, Doc asked us to go around the table and voice any prayer needs that we might have.  He asked us to look to the person on our right (of course, Paul was sitting to my right).  He told us that after we had voiced our requests, we would go back around the table and pray especially for that person on our right.

The lump in my throat, my old familiar friend, returned.  We went around the table, one by one, and took notes about the needs of our friends around the room.  Prayers for upcoming mission trips, prayers for family members that are lost, prayers for foreign exchange students that had to return to their homes, and then it was Paul's turn.  As my husband told his friends, his brothers and sisters, about what was happening in our family, you could visibly see the weight being lifted off of him.  It was as though the burden he carried was still over him, but it was being lifted up on every side by the men and women in that room who loved us and who were, at that very moment, in this fight with us for God to be glorified!

We went around the table again and began to pray for the person on our right.  It was the most incredible honor and privilege of my life to be able to carry my husband before the throne of God with our friends,  and ASK, expecting God to hear my prayer for him.  I was called to SEEK, expecting to find exactly what God had already planned for our family.  It was now my turn to KNOCK, expecting God to open that door and welcome my husband into His plan.

We left that night, not as one, but as many.  We joined together a team of praying friends, with the single focus of allowing God to be God and wanting nothing more than for His purpose to be made complete at Whispering Pines Ranch.  Paul and I both agreed that if we were to remain there and do the work that had been started, that would be fine.  But if God had another man to do the job, we would support that, too.  The ultimate focus of our prayer was that people be drawn to God and that He would use us or move us out of the way to accomplish it.  And our friends agreed with us.

So, now you are almost caught up with our story.  Are you interested in being a part of what God has started at Whispering Pines Ranch?  We are asking for every praying person we know to join us to pray that all of heaven would be opened up and that God would use a little 60 acre farm in Purvis, Mississippi to make Himself known to people who need Him.  This in NO WAY is about Paul and Rhonda Walters.  There's absolutely nothing about either of us that is of worth or that could pull off all that He has planned.  We are ill-equipped, at best.  Curious, but not close to having everything we need to accomplish the work that God has called us to do.  So we are going to lay this place, one more time, at the feet of our Jesus and let Him do what He does best.

Here's the word for today that is meant to encourage you:

Psalm 91
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  (Most High God, His name is El Elyon.  The God of details!  He is the strongest of all gods, able to to handle anything.)  I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!'  For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.  

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.  A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you.  You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.  For you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High (El Elyon), your dwelling place.  No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.  They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.  He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.

Friends, we are all in a battle.  The battle began on the day that sin entered this world through Adam.  We were created by the hand of God, His breath was breathed into us and we were made to live in perfect peace with Him.  What is sin?  Sin is our choice.  Its our nature, now, that causes us to believe we can be god of our own life.   Because of sin we are separated from God and our world is cursed.  All of nature is waiting on the day for God to heal our land and for sin to be banished forever.

Until that time we are here together to live out a life that is focused on doing the work that God has for us to do.  He promised us, in Psalm 91, that He's got it all under control.  El Elyon, the God of details, is more than able to work out any problem that might come up in our lives.  He is never caught off guard or shocked when trouble comes our way.  He never once has scooted up to the edge of His throne in heaven and wrung His hands, wondering what in the world we were going to do to make it.  He never once has cried out in fear that all was lost or that there was no way for us to find our way.  And on the day that Paul was asked to resign, God did not panic!  He didn't wish and hope for it all to just go away so our lives would be easy!  I believe with all my heart that our God smiled and looked down to find His kids asking and seeking and knocking.   Not because of our own strength, but because there's no one else to trust but God.

If you are alive still, I know that there's trouble in your life, too.  I know that sometimes things get too overwhelming to even bear.  But I know that the God of truth who has spoken directly to us through His word has the same truth available for you to hear and rely on.  

This is the rushing river!  When you anchor your own feet in your own truth at the bottom of a rushing river, you will not stand!  Your feet may hold for a time, but as long as you are trying to stand on your own strength you will be swept under.  That "peace like a river" can only happen when you trust.  Lift up your feet and relax.  The living water that surrounds you will carry you.  Peace will wash over you and you will know that God alone is in charge and in control.  Your life will change for the better when you stop relying on your own strength and when you are able to rest in Him.

God bless you today and always.