With our days as busy as ever, time to record the wonderful things God is doing has to be squeezed into the 2 hour commute to church today through the handy use of the portable laptop.
While driving home three weeks ago today, on April 12th, Easter Sunday, our family discussed our increasing concern about the lack of pasture land we have for our growing herd of dairy cows. We decided we would dedicate the week to sincere prayer, asking God to give us discernment to know what to do.
We are not in a position to buy land because our personal properties have not sold and we are committed to moving forward in a "no new debt" manner. Needing to be close to the cows, since we milk them twice a day, prohibits us from moving the cows to rented land while the family stays behind. The only viable alternative has been for us to find land with a house available for rent.
During our week of seeking God's guidance, we assigned each of our family team members specific tasks: Tim would search back roads for possible farm rental properties during milk deliveries. Meredith would do an exhaustive search through MLS as well as follow up on any leads Tim turned up. I (Joy) would list the home we currently live in on craigslist to see if anyone would be interested in renting it while it would continue to be on the market for sale. The bigger boys would offer valuable insight as we discussed the research findings. With our strategy in place, we committed the week to God , knowing that without His help, all our effort would be in vain.
Since this was taking place in the weeks preceding Elliott's graduation pig-pickin' and square dance, the time we spent researching was very limited and had to be well-organized. Monday began with everyone in position, searching, seeking, and praying.
As possibilities surfaced, we quickly assessed each one, but only God could reveal the answers in the way He did. Midway through the week, during my morning Bible reading, God miraculously gave us a verse that was an incredible encouragement. "God will greatly bless His people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their flocks and herds will GRAZE IN GREEN PASTURES." Isaiah 32:20 We were so excited to hear a word from the Lord. We decided all of us would commit the verse to memory that day and we posted it in several places around the house to serve as a continual reminder of what appeared to be a very encouraging promise.
During the week, we talked about one particular property that we had stumbled upon several weeks earlier. It seemed like it would provide a perfect pasture and the owner was very eager - I should say UNUSUALLY eager - to make a deal with us. As we researched during the week, all possibilities were compared against the eager owner's farm. As God would have it during our week of prayer for discernment, Meredith happened to be reading the local paper on Thursday and we were shocked to see the property with the eager owner listed in the foreclosure section. Our mouths dropped as we suddenly understood the owner's willingness to quickly make a deal with us. He had withheld the information from us about the impending foreclosure and without God's guidance we may have taken him up on his deal and gone through the exhausting effort of moving to a farm that would have shortly thereafter been foreclosed on. Our confidence in God's guidance and protection of our family soared!
In the midst of the week a family called on recommendation of a mutual friend inquiring about possibly renting the cottage (garage/apt). I explained that the cottage was no longer for rent but told them that we had another home available - our own. The drawback, I explained, was that our home would continue to be on the market for sale. As only God could do, He worked out the meeting of the family, showing of the house, and following discussions in such a way that both families agreed that a rent-to-own situation would work wonderfully for both. With an excellent recommendation from their current landlord, we set a move-in date of June 1st to begin their rent-to-own term.
While Tim, Meredith, and I drove around Thursday afternoon to check out the properties discovered through computer research, we stopped at the local Mennonite store to pick up the bulk supply of wheat berries that we had ordered. In casual conversation, we asked the ladies at the store if they knew of any abandoned farms in the area. They discussed the status of a few between one another then said, "Well, if you're bold you could check out the old farm just across from the Mennonite church."
We drove right over and surveyed the old place, but to me, it seemed like just one more uninhabitable, falling down homestead. Not so to Timmy and Meredith. They could see potential. As soon as we returned home, Meredith immediately began searching county records online to find the owner's name. Timmy analyzed aerial views of the farm through google earth and made plans to contact the owner and we took the older boys over to ask for their opinions regarding the feasibility of rehabilitating the farm. From that point on, I can't even begin to tell you the many ways God worked to confirm this would be His choice for us and our animals.
And so begins a new Alexander adventure! We will be spending this month repairing the 100 year old farmhouse and outbuildings so that we can move in by June 1st. There are many thoughts I have about moving into an old, abandoned house, but I feel I must be cautious in voicing them because this is God's provision for us. We asked for discernment regarding our growing farm and God has miraculously opened this door for us. We are leaning heavily on God's promise to "greatly bless His people" in this, our latest adventure.