“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
(Isaiah 43: 18-19 NIV)
This is a new decade and, thus, a new chapter in our lives. God has told us that He is doing a new thing. He is making a way in the wilderness even when we can’t, perhaps, even perceive the overgrown trail leading out of the confusion and chaos that has surrounded us up to this point.
For New Year’s Eve this year, The Outdoorsman and I hosted our oldest daughter, Miss Sunshine, and her three former Baylor roommates at Green Acres. It was so much fun to experience the thrill of four college roommates reuniting after months spent apart while working in Germany, Italy, and various locations in Texas. These four beauties have experienced so much growth, change, and even discomfort over the past year that it is a wonder that any of them are still so full of giddy excitement, anticipation, and hope for their future. Why can they smile in the midst of huge changes and struggles? I would venture to say it is their common faith in the truth of God’s promises. The truth mentioned above being foremost in their minds. They trust God. They know that He can do “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) even when things don’t quite make sense in our minds.
Many of you know that 2019 has not been my favorite year. It was full of challenges in just about every aspect concerning the life of my family. However, I am fully trusting God in the details surrounding our collective life. He will make all things new. He will make a way for each and every one of us. He will direct our paths out of the wilderness if we watch and listen to His voice. That is the key. We must listen for His voice to find our way out. I truly believe that statement. It is impossible to find your way out of the wilderness without a guide to lead you out. When you are in the midst of confusion and fear, it is almost impossible to find the way out on your own because your thoughts and perceptions are distorted by pain.
While our daughter and her sweet friends were at our house for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, they all worked diligently on writing and discussing goals for the upcoming year. It was so heartwarming and wonderful to hear these young women face and discuss heartache, growth, change, and dreams.
One of the many things they did together was writing down events, thoughts, and actions that they wanted to “leave behind” in 2019. They invited me to join them in writing them down on slips of paper, sharing them with one another, and throwing them into the blazing fire that was burning outside. At first, I was a little reluctant, but before long, I had written down seven or eight habits and thoughts I wanted to leave behind. At least five of them began with the words “Worrying about….” and I soon saw that I had developed a pattern. A pattern of not trusting God. Ouch. That hurt. I didn’t realize how many times in the past year I had panicked and not trusted God with a difficult situation. There were MANY times I had doubted Him and doubted His plan for our family. Times when people in our family had been hurt or disrespected by others, times when people we loved had developed unhealthy habits, and times when beloved family members had passed away unexpectedly. There were many reasons to cause my unbelief, but that unbelief is not founded on any truth I know about God. He has always been there for me and for my family. Like He promises, He will never leave us or forsake us. We can trust Him and believe His promises. They are steadfast and true.
Just like the Israelites in the Old Testament, my faith seems to ebb and flow with the tide. The Israelites of the Bible trusted Him completely during abundance and then frequently doubted His presence during disaster. I do not want to be likened to an Israelite who lacks faith in the one true God. He has proven Himself to me and my family over and over. I must hold fast to that fact in the midst of difficult times in the future.
My heart’s desire for 2020 is for this year to be the year of steadfast faith. I am determined to take my “worrying” and turn it into prayers. My new goal is to learn to pray instead of worry every single time I begin to worry. Every. Single. Time. Instead of picking up my phone and texting friends (even God-fearing, prayerful friends!) I want to pray to God BEFORE I talk to anyone else or seek anyone else’s advice.
This year, 2020, is going to be a year of growth and change for our family at Green Acres. We have several key events on the horizon that will create large, permanent change for our family. My propensity is to fear change and to invariably brace myself for discomfort, but The Outdoorsman always keeps me grounded by reminding me to quit fretting change and to embrace the positive aspects and excitement of it instead. He is good like that. Always looking at the positive side of hard work, growth, and change. I am ashamed to admit that my default mode is to dread the hard work that must be done to promote change even though I know that change is always for our good and for God’s glory.
Green Acres is shaping up. This is the year.
When we moved to Green Acres on December 21, 2015, we put ourselves on a five year plan to get the farm into good working order. This marks the fifth year of our five year plan and, thankfully, things are starting to take shape. The livestock and pens have all been reworked to reflect our priorities. We have made some tough decisions this past year. We have thinned out animals we no longer want to raise on Green Acres and welcomed new animals we want to include. We have processed some of our livestock and learned the value of raising our own food. We have found ways to make taking care of our animals more manageable. We have learned to let some things go when times becomes our enemy.
One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned this past year has been to not be too hard on ourselves when difficult things in life take precedence over beauty on the farm. That has been a tough one for me. For almost six months of the past year, we had to just let the farm sit as we grappled with issues concerning our family. Things fell into a state of chaos and disrepair at an alarming pace, but The Outdoorsman continued to remind me that we would, in due time, be able to get things back to the former state. Slowly, over the past couple of months, we have worked to get things looking beautiful again. We have reworked our corral, finished some pig pens, and built new shelters for our pigs and chickens. Scenes across Green Acres are beginning to look serene again.
It struck me as I read the last paragraph that this is exactly how God works in us. At times, things get messy and chaotic in our lives. They seem out of control, chaotic, and even ugly during certain seasons of our lives, but then God steps in (at our invitation!) and slowly makes changes that restore the order and beauty into our lives. After the clearing out of the weeds and restoration to beauty, He is then able to use us as an instrument of peace and beauty in the lives of others. Through our own restoration, He is made known to more people and, hopefully, this causes people to want to know Him better as a result.
Thank you, God, for your ability to create beauty from ashes. May our lives become more beautiful each year by the guidance of Your loving hands. May the beauty attract others to seek You as a result.