Hello! It is soooo good to be back home--even if only for a few days before we take off again this Wednesday. I want to thank all of you for being so understanding this month as we took time "off" to go to the Sermon on the Mount Regional Conference in Mears, Michigan. Please understand that this was not a vacation, but three days of overwhelming information and hard work that often left me with a head ache and in danger of tears. It stretched us and it grew us physically, mentally and spiritually and it was incredibly good for us. Coming home, we have lots of new ideas and even more work ahead as we try to implement our new knowledge.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with "Sermon on the Mount Ministries", it was founded by Drs. Lew and Melodie Sterrett, who have traveled extensively to teach Biblical Principles from horseback. Dr. Sterrett hosted this year's conference at Paradise Ranch along with the incredible Paradise Ranch Staff (seriously, we were so blessed by this hard working team and I want to give a shout out to Tim, Hannah, Chad, Sarah, Danielle, Tessa, Clint, Austin, Erica, photographers, those that cooked delicious food for us and all the people I'm missing because they worked behind the scenes to pull off such a week!).
On Wednesday evening, Dr. Sterrett gave a presentation, or sermon, on horseback, using his horses as live visuals for the principles he was teaching. Before I continue, you'll need to understand that by this point I was feeling fully inadequate. It was easy to become overwhelmed by the wealth of knowledge I now realized I did not posess. As I watched the presentation, one of Dr. Sterrett's horses refused a cue and ran off across the arena in pure disobedience. With a laugh Dr. Sterrett followed his horse and turned to the audience, "Anybody got a gun?!"
We all laughed too, because we knew that Dr. Sterrett would never actually shoot his prized horse worth thousands of dollars. He had invested far too much time and training to throw it away in a fit of anger over the horse's disobedience. So he laughed and pursued his horse until it returned to him and the crowd chuckled because they could relate--perhaps more than they realized.
For myself, I realized that God feels the same way towards me (and all of us). I may be inadequate. My behavior may be disappointing. But God has already invested so much in pursuit of me, that He will not give up and toss me aside. He will continue to call me and when I return to Him, He will welcome me. I know God will have patience with Ben and I both as we strive to learn a new normal. We're in an awkward stage right now--we have grown out of our old comfort zones yet we haven't quite grown into the new normal, that can only come with time and purposeful effort. I am grateful for a God who is patient and ever present and I am excited to see HIS Ranch grow as well! In another month, the season will be coming to an end but in many ways we are just getting started.
For those who also feel inadequate, my prayer is that you may recognize the God who has invested in you and desires still a relationship with you. We don't have to deserve His love in order to accept it.
"But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8