When we started on this journey to find land, we were open to just about anything, but we did have a few parameters. Our list looked like this: within 30 minutes of Good Shepherd (under that if possible), have 10-15 acres, have some areas of the land already cleared and ready for pasture, and hopefully have a house we could work with. Our concerns mostly pertained to acreage and distance from the church, and we had eyes mostly for land. We quietly whispered to God that we would also like a home where we could share our space with friends and family and find rest and joy with our children, but it was just a quiet desire. There were moments in our search that we weren't sure we would find anything to fit our parameters, and we reworked them several times. The hard question was what to give up? Should we cut back on acreage? But that would leave less room for horses and programs. Should we look for land farther away? But that would make it more difficult for Devin as a staff member at church and for us to remain a part of the Good Shepherd community. We already knew we didn't want or need a big house, so we were definitely willing to give up areas there.
After months of searching and praying and realizing this turned out to be so much more difficult than we originally thought, we found 1069 N. Shiloh Road. Through the graciousness of the sellers and with God's guidance, we had a contract in January on a beautiful home with 10 acres and open areas for pasture, all within a 20-25 minute drive to the church. And the scheduled closing date? February 14th. Yeah, we were overwhelmed at all the details coming together. God certainly didn't have to see to every item on our list, let alone a few whisperings of our heart, but He chose to do so. And, we are so grateful. He made it possible, and we wanted to dedicate the land and house back to Him. So, we planned for a Day of Dedication where we would gather with friends in person and through social media to pray over the property.
As February 14th arrived, the weather was almost a delay to closing on the house in many ways - banks were closed until noon on that Friday, the sellers were having trouble getting out of their driveway, and the roads were still not plowed in many areas.
After a few bumps and a little stress, we officially closed on our new home and land at 4:35 pm. We grabbed the kids from our friends' house and rushed off to the new property for our Day of Dedication in an effort to try to make it in time for our own event. The factor of the weather was a deterrent for many who had planned on coming out, but we were still able to gather with our LifeGroup in person and through social media with friends and family in 7 states (that we know of) and one other country (India) to pray over various parts of the property.
I was a bit of an emotional mess most of the day - from the stress of wondering if the closing would actually happen on that day, to the joy of receiving a new home and land, to the love being felt from friends all over, to the wonder of seeing another piece of a dream unfold, and to the amazement of how God chooses to work. Yeah, I was kind of a weepy mess most of the day, but in what our kids like to call a "happy tears" sort of way. It was overwhelming and humbling to see how many friends and family have been continually praying with us and certainly joined in for the Day of Dedication. It was simply beautiful.
I am completely blown away by God's graciousness and generosity. He continues to pave ways for the vision of this ranch where we think there are such slim possibilities. He has been incredibly faithful and many times quite creative. It has been terrifying at times to step out in faith and trust, but He has just called us to be obedient. And, that's all we want to be. Obedient. And on Valentine's Day, we were able to see the fruit of where God's faithfulness and our obedience met as we stood on the new property that will be our home and the home of Bright Side Youth Ranch. I could think of nothing better than to stand there with friends near and far surrounding us and praying with us as we dedicated the land back to God, who is the source of the vision and who made it all possible.