Sweetwater Youth Ranch

I guess you can call me “Old Fashioned”..

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a soft spot for “Old Fashioned”. I love movies set back in the 1800’s, Westerns, History, Antiques, Amish communities…I’m not sure what it is that draws me but I suspect it’s the simplicity it portrays. A time where porches were used for more than just a decorative entrance to a house; where neighbors actually gathered and talked to each other; a time where communities came together for common goals.

While planning for and praying about this Ranch, I imagined a place with that old fashioned feel to it; a place for the parents or guardians to unhook from the cares of life, visit with the host or just relax while the children make fond memories. I had no idea what the Lord had in store but I knew enough about Him to  trust that whatever it was, it would bring joy to my soul. Fast forward.. My son and I were out working on the property down around the creek and had taken a lunch break. I was so tired; I sat down on the creek bank and just melted. The sound of the water rippling by, the sun on my face..Oh, sweet peace. I started reminiscing to my son that when he was little, ever now and then,  I would pick a day and go out to Mills River or Davidson River and let him and his sisters play in the water while I completely relaxed. He asked why I didn’t do that anymore and I could only reply with “I guess, like everyone else, I’m just too busy”. As I looked back into the creek, it hit me; God gave me my happy place.. right here! But, it’s not just for me, I get to share. Indeed; this brings joy to my soul!

      And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

                                                              Colossians 3:15


When we bought the property we knew there was a great deal of work involved; cleaning, clearing, restoring, developing and building but, we also knew it was the right place so we accepted the challenge and lit into it! It didn’t take long to realize our limits. It’s a sad day when you wake up and realize you’re not 20 anymore! We started to question if we had taken on more than we could handle. While discouragement threatened us, we kept asking God to work everything out according to his will and give us the grace to accept it and strength to press on. Making a schedule was almost impossible and goals got hung out on the line more than once. Phillip just kept saying “it’s all in Gods timing”.  On February 22 my day was committed to an event with the youth group at our church; therefore, I was not able to go out to the property to help.  Around 10:00 I got a phone call from Phillip. At first I thought something was terribly wrong by the tone of his voice. He started off with “you’re not going believe this!” I braced myself and said “what?” he said, “I pulled up to the gate and it was open”. Before I had a chance to gasp and relay my thought of Oh No!, he said “and there are men everywhere working..Henry, brought men from Freedom Baptist church!”  Immediately my mind went to that place stored in my memory where images of the town folk come together for an old fashioned barn raising. My heart; however, went to a place of praise..praise and worship toward the author and finisher of the hope that exists in those stories of old.

Many times we feel God is not listening; we are tempted to feel he is not concerned with our daily lives. Our bodies are racked with pain and our emotions are exhausted with concern; we feel we want to give up! Then God…God shows up.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

                                                                         Psalms 31:24               

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