After trying and planning for three years, we finally made it to Yellowstone with our daughter Esther and her family. Dieter, her husband, is a great trip planner and had been trying to get this joint vacation out of the starting gate for three years. When the floods hit Yellowstone we thought we might have to put it off again.
The National Park service did an excellent job in getting everything open and running in short order following the devastating flooding.
We camped at Fishing Bridge RV Park and it was a delightful place to base our Yellowstone adventures from. The crowds were not too difficult and we were able to see all the areas we desired to see. Both loops were open and accessible.
It was a joy to share this adventure with Esther’s family. Addie is six and while everyone else hoped to see a bear she had no desire to see any!
Judah is fourteen and is out for Cross Country. He and his dad went for a run nearly every morning. They did have a bear cross their path in the distance. They didn’t get very close though.
Esther and family rented an RV and we took our teardrop. It worked so well for all of us. The kids enjoyed the whole camping experience. We went swimming, hiking, sightseeing and played games. Grandpa made some pretty good pancakes one morning.
The boat trip to Jenny Lake was fun. We hiked to the Hidden Falls and the kids went on to Inspiration Point. Grandpa and I did some more hiking around Jenny Lake. We like to stop to take lots of pictures. (It helps us have time to catch our breath). The altitude and our attitudes do make a difference.
The Grand Tetons are always a favorite of ours. Of course the grandpa loves his barns. We always have to capture many pictures here.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
This vacation was certainly worth the wait and all the planning. Thank you Dieter for your expertise. It was a delight to share this journey with this sweet family.
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.
A couple of young kids got married Fifty years ago. Now here we are in our year of Jubilee. We literally blinked our eyes and 50 years passed. We thought we were in love on that wedding day but we didn’t really know what love is. It didn’t matter though, because we learned what love truly is. It’s a determination to decide to love every day. Even when it seems difficult or impossible. It’s not impossible. We have traversed some difficult days during these fifty years. Some were devastating and troubling, but we set our faces to survive with our marriage and our children and most of all our faith in tact. Not just in tact but deeper. And God showed us the way and gave us the tools. Now here we are. We are more in love than we could even imagine at 19 and 24 years of age.
Too be fully seen by somebody, then and be loved anyhow- this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.
People that celebrated 50 years of marriage used to be pretty old. That sure doesn’t hold true anymore as we are still so young. At least in our own eyes. 😉 Our four precious children and our 12 grandchildren celebrated us by planning a get away in Breckenridge for our whole family. Everyone was able to attend. That was such a blessing as everybody is so busy. We were able to do hikes and eat gelato, play games and go out to eat one evening. They rented a house and we were so able to enjoy each day and the gorgeous scenery. A red fox came up below our balcony one day. We were very blessed by their sacrifices and were able to get a family picture. The farmer even took off the John Deere sweatshirt and put on a tie. It was truly a grand celebration.
A huge thank you goes out to our family for making this celebration of our Jubilee year perfect. This grandma was thrilled that all were able to attend. She also wants to say thank you to the Farmer for sticking around for 50 years.
One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage.
John C. Maxwell
I left home one morning at 6:45am in early May to go with a friend to console a classmate that had lost her husband the previous week. Thankfully, the Farmer called before I left town at 7 and said he had a little problem. He blacked out on the treadmill and it bucked him off. He said he almost blacked out again so he thought maybe he should call me and let me know.
Needless to say, I raced back home and rushed him to our hospital where they began to do all kinds of tests including putting him in a neck collar. He was really not a fan of that. As they monitored him they noticed his pulse was in the 40’s and dropping sometimes. He had a complete heart block. They were going to fly him to a larger hospital, but the weather did not permit and all the ambulances in the area were busy.
God was our strength and He sustained us and kept us fairly calm. When they began to get the AED ready just as a precaution, I did sense some concern as I’ve taken that training and know why that is used. Six hours later they got a wonderful ambulance crew and we were transported to a larger facility. Our oldest son had arrived and drove me to the hospital where our younger son was already waiting the arrival of his dad the Farmer.
The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.
Children are a wonderful blessing as the Word of God says. Our son in Dallas, TX and our daughter in Kansas City were also in constant contact with us and ready to head our way if they were given the word to come.
I admit that the thought that we might not make it to our 50 Wedding Anniversary did cross my mind. We were only 21 days away from that celebration. It’s so important that we take charge of our thoughts in all situations as we have an enemy that wants to destroy us in any way possible. I also found it interesting that just the day before we went to pray the Word over a dear friend that was having surgery in a couple of days. We prayed for his complete healing and restoration. Now we activated the prayer chains and had people praying for us.
The cardiologist told us he needed a pacemaker. He has a cow tissue artificial valve in his heart that he had installed ten years ago. This sounded like a piece of cake compared to that open heart surgery. It really wasn’t just that easy but the Farmer did well. He was really devastated post surgery when they told him he might not be able to weld again. This girl was just happy to keep him around with or without the welding skills.
He had doctors orders to not use that left arm for a month as they didn’t really want the heart wires disengaged. We did not desire that either. The Farmer had some jobs that had to be completed anyway. Yes, that is his bride who does not care for heights in the tree, on a ladder with a chain saw.
The Farmer recovered well and we did indeed celebrate that anniversary. Too be continued… Thank you, Lord for our story continuing! We praise the Lord for helping us get through the detour and survive the chain saw.
Granted, detours are anything but convenient. They take you out of the way. They take longer than you originally had planned to travel. But they are necessary. God is more interested in your development than your arrival.
Dr. Tony Evans
The mind of man plans his way. But the Lord directs his steps.
Our Lord blessed us tremendously on the way home from Arizona. With fuel prices rising, we thought it would take plenty of fuel to get home. We had a very strong tail wind for two days and averaged 13 miles per gallon. The last day home was a different story. As we turned to head Northeast, the winds were buffeting us from the side and rocking everything. The knowledge that we were a few hours from home, kept us going. Our fuel average went down and down but home sure looked good.
Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
The farmer was summoned immediately to begin to build terraces for a neighbor. We still own a single belt terracer but don’t have a tractor anymore. Well, that’s not completely accurate as we have two IHC Super C’s and and IHC B. They are not the kind of tractor with which you pull a terracer, however. This is according to the Farmer.
He also started driving a semi for a neighbor and hauling corn from the bin to the ethanol plant. He didn’t even get a chance to draw in a deep breath. He does love working in the dirt and has built lots of terraces in his day. I think he had a good time throwing dirt around and telling the younger guys how to do it.
We were still able to meet another great SOWER couple as they came to stay at our overnight parking for SOWER’s and their RV. They are brand new to SOWER’s but have been looking forward to this for a long time. They are both still teaching at a Junior College up north. They are looking forward to their first assignment in Colorado Springs. We loved getting acquainted with them and sharing so much about our families and our love for the Lord. The Farmer and I hope they make their way back through this prairie someday.
The Farmer’s wife also had a project in mind that involved replacing some wall tile in the bathroom and the Farmer’s daughter needed assistance with their basement bathroom. Those daughter’s sure know how to wrap those dad’s around their little fingers. If their smile doesn’t do it, chocolate will turn the tide. The Farmer was pleased to help our wonderful son-in-law with this project.
Watching the Ranchers at the looms was a special treat this week. They make rugs, scarves, mug rugs, placemats and many other items.
This week our job was cleaning a storage room on the ranch and sorting through items to decide on disposal or usable. We hauled many, many items to the dumpster and some into town to the thrift shop. Bobbie and I enjoyed the thrift shop trips as we are only a mile away from Sonic. They will certainly miss us when we head home next week at the Sonic.
The three weeks of work go by so very quickly. Friendships just started are now being strained with goodbyes. We will miss this place and the Ranchers and the special SOWER couple we worked alongside these last three weeks. Yes, Izzy, the dog, we will miss you too!
After this last week of work we wanted to hit one more National Park on my bucket list- Saguaro National Park, near Tuscon.
As we headed south towards Phoenix we began to see Saguaro’s right away. Arizona is a state of great contrasts. It was 35 degrees in Camp Verde and 91 degrees when we got to Tucson. Our pickup air conditioner wasn’t working and I tried very hard not to whine. But it was hot and I maybe dressed a little too warm.
We were able to see both the East and West section of the park. Our picnic lunch was great as we shared a nice shady picnic table with a couple of other groups of people. We had a nice visit with people from Washington State and a couple from Colorado.
The church we found to attend was Desert Willow church and we really enjoyed our time there and were blessed by the worship team and the pastor.
SOWERS are known for playing games so on our last afternoon together we enjoyed playing some Sweep. It is a fun card game with rules that seem to change with each new SOWER group.
Rainbow Acres, you stole a piece of our hearts. The Ranchers and the memories will be cherished.
Wondering why we call our Daily Devotionals devotional? My old dictionary from 1828 says devotion is the state of being dedicated, consecrated, or solemnly set apart for a particular purpose. (I use a dictionary from 1828 because it refers to the Lord) It says a solemn attention to the Lord in worship; a yielding of the heart and affections to God with reverence, faith and piety in religious duties, particularly in prayer and meditation; devoutness. An act of reverence, respect or ceremony.
I guess we call it a time of devotion because we set apart this time to spend with the One True God. Any relationship is so dependent on time spent with each other. The Lord created us for this purpose. To commune with Him and enjoy time with Him in study of the Word and in prayer.
“The morning bids me to linger a moment before the sun proclaims the day as having arrived. And it is this silent space hewn from a day not yet on its feet that tenderly and at times abruptly positions me to better face the arriving day. And I am utterly amazed that there has never been a single day in the whole of my life where the day showed up without this gift. Rather, it’s that I have too often shown up too hurried to accept the gift.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough
As SOWERS we have devotions every morning before work. Since there are only two SOWER couples here we’ve had to do the devotions twice a week. This has put a dent in the devotions that we have prepared to share with others and have had to work pretty diligently to prepare some new titles this trip! The other morning we felt it was just important to gather together with some specific scriptures and pray for our nation and our world. I guess that was God’s plan as the other couple thought that should be our mission also. Isn’t God so good! It was a great time of praying for the concerns of our nation and our world.
Nothing teaches about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”
After work one afternoon we were able to go to the Rainbow Acres store and see all the beautiful things made by the Ranchers here. There are some really good paintings, some rugs, table runners, mug rugs and scarves made by the weavers here. Some 90 year old ladies come to thread the many weaving machines when they need to be threaded. They use old bed sheets and other fabrics to weave their beautiful designs. It is amazing what they can do and the beauty of it all. A stained glass company sends them all of their small pieces that they are going to throw away and they make wonderful stepping stones that sell very well. Some of the ranchers make jewelry and many other projects. I bought a memory bracelet that is silver and blue and Susan (one of the ranchers) was hoping that it was one she made. I hope it is too.
The barn is a fun place to be for sure. Debbie was telling me that she gets to do one on one time with one of the horses. It is a special time for her and for the horse. It is healing for them both. They have some goats and some sheep that they are preparing to show at the county fair and a little pony. Nancy was being a mentor to a new rancher. She got to take her everywhere with her and show her the ropes. She was having a great time taking her to classes with her and out to the barn.
There is a choir here that performs at many festivities in the area. Of course some of the outside activities were curtailed due to the coronavirus. Things are opening up again and that is making everyone happy.
At church this morning we met the woman that teaches weaving and we are excited to get to watch the ranchers weave this week. The looms are amazing and look so complicated. That will be a treat.
The farmer and I drove to the Grand Canyon this weekend. We walked several miles along the rim trail. It had been 30 years since we had been on the south rim of the Grand Canyon so it was definitely time to return. This time we didn’t have four children with us, so it was less stressful. We did miss showing them the canyon and all its beauty and God’s marvelous creation.
There are over 1000 promises in the Bible that God has made to those that believe in Him. Many of these promises are a two-way contract that we call a Covenant Promise. Some examples of this are found in the following verses.
Jer. 7:23 Obey my voice and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.
Matt. 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
His believers have a part to play in all of these covenant promises.
God keeps His promises and He always does His part. He never, ever fails us. We can take His word to the bank.
Is 54:10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.
There is one thing God cannot do…He cannot, will not stop loving you!!
The rainbow of seven (perfection) colors is a sign of His promise.
Genesis 9:12-16 And God said:”This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between you and Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
The rainbow is a beautiful symbol and reminder of all of God’s promises. The number of the colors and stripes in the rainbow are seven. That is the number of perfection in the Bible. Only God could put such a beautiful promise right up in the sky for us all to see.
Some people say there is a pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow. If there is I think I found it here at Rainbow Acres. The beautiful people “ranchers” here, absolutely are pure gold. God made them so beautiful. I spent the lunch time visiting with a rancher very knowlegeable about trains and steam engines. He asked me a lot of questions that I had no answer. Study on trains is a must if I sit by John again.
At Bible study on Monday night there was some lively discussion among the ranchers on the book of Ecclesiastes. One young lady there was very knowledgeable about the Word of God and had some great answers. The joy of the Lord is so apparent on many of their faces. Some have been here since the facility opened in 1974. Jeff came at that time and his parents died shortly after he came here. This is definitely his home. He collects lanyards and had a birthday on Saturday. Since the grandkids and I love to sew lanyards, I made one for him. The smile on his face was the ultimate pot of gold.
I think the pot of gold is doing something for others and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God keeps His promises. In the times we are living in, it is priceless to know that we have no reason to fear or even to worry. We know God is faithful, as we’ve seen it many times in our past.
These ranchers know the faithfulness of God. The covid lockdowns were very hard on them and being away from all of the other ranchers was such a strain. They have such joy in being together again. Their prayer circle in the morning is a delight, as their prayer requests are so rich. They pray for their families and their families here. They try so very hard to be kind to one another. I think they know more than the rest of us what it feels like to be treated harshly by others.
We are working on sanding cupboards in one of the group homes that is being remodeled. I think there are eight rooms in each house with a kitchen and big gathering room. A caregiver is in the home at all times. They don’t spend a lot of time there as they are busy with classes and working. One of the ranchers was so excited about her history class. The grounds are busy with bicycles and hikes and enjoying this spring time weather. Everyone greets you here. Everyone smiles and makes you feel special. Yes, I’m feeling pretty special in this place. They all are. I wish our world could be so in love with being together. Maybe, just maybe we could lay down our differences and cherish them instead.
Yes, the pot of gold is very close to Rainbow Acres. The pot of gold is seeing the love of Jesus in others. His rainbow is His creation and so are we and so are these precious ranchers. God is good all the time.
The farmer and his sidekick left the prairie last week and are 936 miles West and South of the farm and all of it’s flatland. The change in God’s great creation has been breathtaking. We’ve seen snow, desert, mountains, rocks and petrified trees. Even though Arizona is known for its hot low elevation desert covered with cacti and bushes, more than half of the state lies at an elevation of at least 4,000 feet above sea level. Arizona possesses the largest stand of evergreen ponderosa pine trees in the world. The two of us are incredibly grateful to take this journey and see some of the beauty available in our own United States of America.
Of course this journey isn’t just about sight seeing, as we came to this part of the world to serve once again as SOWERS (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready) at an adult handicapped ranch in Camp Verde, AZ. This beautiful spot is called Rainbow Acres. The story behind the dream of this ranch and the man the Lord used to make it happen, will inspire everyone’s faith. Ralph Showers in 1973 had a dream for a ranch home for handicapped adults. He was a pastor who had struggled greatly with dyslexia and other problems. But he knew how big God is. After they acquired the property an accident occured in moving a building to the property that left Ralph with no hands, as both hands had to be amputated after his electocution. Many would have given up at this point but Ralph still believed that God can do the impossible and use a willing vessel.
The adults here are called Ranchers and they all have responsibilities that they have chosen. The greenhouses here are loaded with the lushest looking lettuce and they are starting many other plants. By the way, the lettuce is delicious as I just had some for lunch. They have horses, sheep, goats and a small shetland. Many of the ranchers work in these areas on the campus and some have jobs off of campus. Everyday there are classes to attend of their choosing and they make some beautiful weavings and other articles for sale.
What makes this a beautiful spot is not the scenery (although that is interesting) it is the smiles and hugs and the love from the ranchers and the staff. It is the love of the Lord in this place and the fullness of His vision and provision. It is the delight of the ranchers to be able to be together again after the covid restrictions. It is the pride they have in their work and their accomplishments. Some are incredible artists, musically inclined with a choir that participates in area events, truely accomplished weavers, and so much more. Oh the talents and giftings the Lord has placed on His delightful children. Ralph Showers did not allow his handicaps keep him from accomplishing the task the Lord had for him nor do these ranchers. God calls people that are mentally challenged, physically handicapped, totally unfit for His purpose in our eyes and He equips them perfectly. The next time I feel unqualified (like today) would someone just slap some sense into me so that I could see God does not call the equiped, He equips the called.
Time for an update. Where have the last few months gone to? The farmer was busy last fall for 2.5 months driving a semi in corn and milo harvest for some friends. He delivered lots of grain to our local elevators.
This girl stayed busy with helping with grandkids, doing some work around our farm and completed a Christmas quilt for one of our daughter in laws. We spent a week in Texas in December with three grandkids while their parents traveled to Scotland.
All of our children made it home for a few days after Christmas. That’s the best Christmas present for this grandma. It’s so good to have family come home.
Some grandsons are involved in wresting which makes the farmer grandpa happy. Since two of them live within an hour of us we’ve had some bleacher time at wrestling tournaments.
Next week we will have our two youngest grandchildren for a few days while the rest of their family goes skiing. They were given a choice and chose our house over skiing so grandmas pretty thrilled.
A new sewing table had been the farmers new project and this girl has started another quilt. The sewing table is so sturdy and nice. This table does not rock and roll like my old fold up table.
At the end of February we are excited to pull the camper out of the Quonset and head to Arizona for our next SOWER project.
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
The SOWER song that we sing every morning following our devotions is “Our Best” written in 1912 by S.C. Kirk. Sometimes we sing off-key and sometimes we sing it beautifully but we always sing it with feeling. Here are the words.
Hear ye the Master’s call, “Give Me thy best!” For, be it great or small, That is His test. Do then the best you can, not for reward, Not for the praise of man but for the Lord. Every work for Jesus will be blest, But He asks from everyone His best. Our talents may be few, These may be small, But unto Him is due Our best, our all.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who get’s the credit.
Harry S. Truman
The staff at Living Waters had high praise for this great bunch of folks. They said the work we did was professional. We painted the outside of the Office, Snack Shop, Motel, and several other small buildings in our time here. The men leveled a big building, finished the inside of the new building, repainted the playground (much to the dismay of the kids who had to wait for the paint to dry before playing), plumbing and electrical repairs also. Stan Buttrick was the leader of the women paint crew. He and Carlie have done 180 projects. They will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year. He was a great guy to paint with and kept us all in line. I’m not a trim painter but through prayer and Stan’s direction he made one of me. I love to live in my paint and enjoy slinging it everywhere. But God answers prayers and He helped me to do my best. We had alot of fun and laughs also. There is never a dull moment with Stan and Carlie around. They are from Massachusetts.
Craig and Karen are from Wichita, KS. They were our fearless leaders. Karen is Canadian and is looking forward to seeing her family again. They are retired teachers and we were sure surprised to meet someone from Kansas there in our crew.
Linda and Richard are from Mississippi. We met them at the SOWER Roundup in Texas in March. Richard played guitar for us each morning. Accompaniment does help us sound better. I don’t think we set any dogs to howling this trip.
Roy has been a SOWER for many years also. He is trying to live again after losing his beloved wife last September. We admired him for his desire to continue to serve. We had also met him in Texas in March.
We have yet to meet a SOWER that wasn’t just precious to us. We seem to have such common goals. We all are retired and still desire to continue serving the Lord in any capacity. This might be cleaning toilets, painting, sweeping down spiders and rebuilding bridges. The three weeks go by so quickly. We are just really getting acquainted when it is time to leave for the next project or for home.
Since we had been gone from our little house on the prairie for five weeks now we were ready to head for home. We had a great time in New Hampshire seeing covered bridges, waterfalls, driving the Kancamunga highway and going to the top of Mount Washington. We saw a mama moose and baby on this drive. It was a sweet treat as we had looked long and hard for moose in Maine.
We traveled on to Vermont and wound up on a dirt road driving on a floating bridge in Vermont. We were in a mountainous region with no cell phone coverage but soon found our way to a highway that was on our old fashioned map. We still believe in map (paper map) navigation also. As we had not made any reservations this night we wound up staying in an older motel (but so clean) in Vermont with the kindest hosts in charge of the place. Since it was a weekend, in a very busy tourist area, we were blessed.
Driving along the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania was another highlight of the journey home. I think the highlight for the farmer with me was when we hit the farmland in Indiana and Illinois. Crops of corn, milo, sunflowers and beans were everywhere. Farmsteads with lovely old barns and cattle grazing in lush pastures were a wonderful sight to behold.
We saw a car in Ohio with a Kansas tag. We hadn’t seen that tag for a month. Home was beginning to call us home. Stopping and seeing our granddaughter in her first week of college was a delight and seeing our daughter and husband and their four children was another treasure. Our five year old granddaughter had one of her very first soccer practices while we were there. They played the soccer girls favorite music, ” Let it Go.”
It was bittersweet arriving home as we are in a drought right now and in desperate need of rain. But the sunset over the grain bin was a welcome delight. It was so good to be home.