I’ve been feeling very philosophical recently. We, like any family, have personal and familial challenges; it is in part those challenges that cause me to be introspective. I have also had many opportunities to talk to various friends about life in general and especially my growth as a wife, mother, woman, and rancher. These, too, have caused me to contemplate our current circumstances.
Here is a true story:
It was a bright and sunny day in May. The flowers were in bloom. The sounds of children playing drifted through the open window. Soon, the sun would be sinking on the horizon. The rancher’s wife was standing at the stove, preparing dinner like she did most nights. She looked at the clock, knowing that the rancher would be walking through the door at any minute. As if on cue, the door opened.
“I’ve had it,” he said, “Let’s put the house on the market.”
She looked at him. “Really? Where did this come from?”
“I’m just tired. I’m tired of kids playing in the street. I’m tired of renters. I’m getting too old. I’m ready for some space.” he replied.
“Well, okay then.” She said with smirk. “I’ll call the realtor first thing in the morning.”
They spent the next two weeks prepping the house for sale. They had to install new carpet, but other improvements were pretty minor.
The house didn’t take long to sell and by the time August came around, they were out of a home. Fortunately, friends allowed them to squat in their vacant house about 40 miles south. They took just enough of their belongings to get by and put the rest in storage. Unfortunately, the quest for the right, new home was not as easy as the sale. All of the properties were either too far away from the city (and work), or too rundown. It seemed like they’d never find something. They quickly grew tired of camping in an empty house with no furniture, no place to sit down and eat a meal, and only the basic amenities. They just wanted to have a home again.
One day, by happenstance (or a prompting), the rancher was perusing available properties. There it sat. It looked like the perfect property. The rancher showed his wife the pictures. She said, “Let’s go look at it.” And they did.
“I like it,” she exclaimed. “It’s the right place. I can feel it.”
They called the realtor on the spot to set up a showing. When they went inside, they were shocked and a little dismayed. The house needed work. The exterior was painted no less than five different colors. The carpet would have to be replaced. Every room needed paint. The list seemed to go on and on. However, the unfortunate look of the house was outweighed by the good condition of the outbuildings. They alone made the property worth pursuing.
They put a deposit down on the property and began the five-week tedium of buying their new home. Five weeks, however, stretched into six, then seven, then eight, and finally into eleven weeks.
They experienced one delay after another. They spent many evenings frustrated to the point of tears. Two things helped them to push on. First, withdrawing the contract and seeking a new contract would only reset the five-week clock. Second, the rancher’s wife had a moment of clarity. In that moment, she knew that the Father was sending her a message. The message was this: You can have this–this dream–but know that it will be hard. I’m making it hard now so you will be prepared for the difficulties that lie ahead.
Finally, they closed on their new home. The trials started immediately. Things went wrong with the house. Animals became sick. Animals died. The utilities were far more than they budgeted. Sales fell through. Predators came. Weather happened. Every day was a struggle.
At one time and then another, the rancher would throw his hands up and say, “I’ve had it! Let’s just sell everything.” Whether it was because of her faith or her deep understanding of the rancher, the rancher’s wife would tell him, “No.” The last time he asked her if they should sell, she calmly replied, “We can sell if you promise me that you are done forever and won’t try again.” She was sly, because she knew that he couldn’t make that promise. They would keep plugging along for as long as they were able.
The funny part of the story is that the adventure has been so much more than just living a dream. It has been a spiritual journey. Struggling has grown my testimony of the Father, His Son, and the plan. I have gained such a testimony of joy and the meaning of happiness. My scripture theme seems to be, “Adam fell that men might be. Men are that they might have joy.” I look back on that moment when I told the rancher that I thought Heavenly Father was preparing us for our future–this moment–and I see things with such clarity. Had we not endured those few months prior to our move to the ranch, we would not have been able to endure the past year. Had we not endured the past year, my spirit would not have matured as it has. I don’t just feel joy occasionally. I know joy. And I experience it often. I love my life and I am so thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity that I have to see the most minuscule things in life as joyful moments to be cherished.