Over the last several weeks I’ve had several people ask me about our property and how things are coming along. If you remember I shared with you all our dream of opening up a retreat center for Pastors, Missionaries, Military and Law Enforcement Chaplains, and other leaders in our post when we were selling our home. Since moving in on December 23rd…yes you read that correctly two days before Christmas, (oh and we had family staying with us, we just like to do things difficult) we have made a ton of progress!
The most exciting and recent development is that we are now an officially recognized non-profit business in the state of Indiana. I went through the process of writing our Articles of Incorporation (yeah that was fun), jumping through the appropriate hoops, and cutting the necessary red tape, and we received our notification on Monday. So, we now are officially Acorn Ridge Retreats Inc. Now, I get to go through the exciting and exuberayting process of applying for 501 c3 status with the Federal government…anyone want to help with that?
Here are some of the physical things we’ve been up to:
- There are two houses on the property, one is the main log cabin, and the other is a 2
bedroom stick-built home that was pretty much trashed. I pretty much gutted the house, and I am still in process of putting it all back together again. Our oldest daughter Kaitlyn, is currently living in the house, but once she moves on from us…a little tear just fell…we will open up that house to our guests.
- There is a small, 400 sq ft, cabin that the previous owners used as a practice run for the main cabin. It is just an empty shell, but our plan for that is to turn it into a ‘tiny home’ for our guests as well. Unlike the stick built home, I haven’t had a chance to do anything with this yet. But, I’m hoping as I wrap up some of the other projects currently going on around the property I’ll be able to start getting this piece ready for guests as well.
- Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a piece of the property that I hadn’t even thought of before, but after a conversation with a friend, I realized what a cool tool it could be. I took an overgrown, but fairly level piece of the land and tore it all up, I removed trees, shrubs, a few woodland creatures…don’t worry there’s lots of land for them to move to…and created a nice ‘camping’ area where those who travel around the country in RV’s could come and park and enjoy the retreat area as well. Yesterday afternoon I had 12 cubic yards of stone delivered and I began the process of graveling so that they could easily level their traveling homes and enjoy an extended stay. The only thing left to do is to run a 50Amp line for them to plug in and water. Hey, anyone have a trencher or Ditch-Witch just laying around???
- There is an extensive flower bed and stone bed system on the property. However, all of the beds were badly overgrown. We’ve killed, uprooted, and hacked out about 80% of the vegetation and now are preparing to lay a ton…literally…a ton of mulch.
You may read all of this and be asking yourself, ‘why in the world would they do this, are they just that bored?’ No, I promise you, with everything going on at Friendship and all of the growth, construction, and everything that comes with it, we are FAR from bored. But, several years ago we were blessed beyond belief with our sabbatical, and from that point on we’ve been asking God to allow us to be a blessing like that in the lives of other pastors and leaders who bear such a heavy burden on a regular basis, and who rarely if ever have the luxury of just being a human being. This is not just a dream for us, but a labor of love. Our hope is that through this extension of Friendship Church we will either directly or indirectly save some leaders from burnout, some marriages from failing, and some churches from deep hurt. The verse we’ve chosen as our theme is Hebrews 6:10 NLT, here’s what it says:
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Believe it or not, our first guest will be coming the weekend of June 17th, which is about 2 years before we planned on it, but hey, God always has better, bigger, and more beautiful plans than we do!
This is Traci and my dream, but it’s an extension of Friendship, and every ministry family served will be served by you! Thank you for your faithfulness, for your love of our family and all of our leadership families, and thank you for allowing me to be your pastor! You guys are awesome!!!
Anyone who’s spent any time around me knows that I love to be outdoors. Especially when being outdoors has something to do with hunting or fishing. For my fellow hunters out there you probably know that this last week bow season for deer opened, and I had the incredible privilege of hanging out with two great guys (Ray & Rex that’s you) in the woods for a couple of days.
For you non-hunters out there who don’t fully understand the draw allow me to attempt, with mediocre words, why we/I love it so much. You usually wake up around 4am after a night of very little sleep anticipating what will happen the next day. Your alarm goes off and you rise to shower and prepare your freshly, scentless clothing. If your hunting with a couple of buddies, which I highly recommend, then you join up and drive to your location. The conversation and camaraderie is really second to none, ribbing, joking, and most of all boasting about who will get either the most or the biggest deer this year. But, this is all pre-game, the event is yet to come.
Once we arrive on location, everything goes quiet, it’s not that you can’t talk, but it just doesn’t feel right. The world around you is still in silent slumber, often even the bugs aren’t making a sound. It is an eery, yet calming feeling that washes over you as you step into nature. In absolute silence you walk to your tree stand, and with as much stealth as possible climb the 12-20′ up to your 2′ x 2′ front row seat to the awakening of the world. If you time it right, you sit in darkness for at least an hour before you feel the cold rush that proceeds first light, as it washes over you enveloping you in the wondrous show that God has prepared just for you in this moment. You take one last look around you knowing that in less than an hour everything you think you see will be gone, and what is real will be unveiled.
As the pre-dawn ignites it is almost imperceptible, the hues of black turn to grey, then blue, orange, and yellow. In this 1,800 seconds the alarm clock of nature erupts around you, as every creature in God’s marvelous creation begins to awaken. In those seconds of pre-dawn glory I have seen more amazing sights than I could probably write about in a life time. I’ve been stared at by curious squirrels, scolded by blue jays, crawled on by annoyed chipmunks, almost knocked out of a tree by a woodpecker the size of a small dog, and once had an owl fly within inches of my nose…and it was glorious!
When the sun finally breaks the horizon the morning is in full throated chorus, with every creature adding to the harmony, reminding you just how small you are, but how special you are. For all of this, this orchestra of nature was created just for us. God built this amazing world just for me. In these moments, during these mornings, I am reveling in God’s love song to me, reminding me of his incomparable power to watch over me, guide me, protect me.
If you need a fresh encounter, a revelation, a time of reflection, can I challenge you? Wake up early, and I mean early. Make some coffee grab a warm blanket, snag a front row seat, and allow your God to unfold before you the majesty of creation…and then remember, you are his crown jewel!