We have a saying here at Haulin Kuester Acres; It’s better than it was yesterday. With every change, even the smallest changes we feel like we are heading in the right direction. The father of soil conservation and a renowned soil scientist, Hugh Hammond Bennett is credited with saying, “Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.” We believe this place landed in our laps because it needed us to rescue it. It was neglected, abused, and harmed. We are just trying to make our corner of the world a little better and hopefully, that means this land will in a way take care of us. The Bible tells us that everything belongs to the Lord, even the land. We approach this place as a gift from God and the best way to honor what he has given us is to rehabilitate this place.
The cat shed
A couple of weeks ago, we started the process of tearing down what we have labeled the cat shed. We’ve dissected it to try and determine how, when, and why it was built. The back of the structure had small rooms with cages. The previous owner told us that the owner before her rescued wayward cats and housed them in the building. At one time, she claims there were up to 50 cats in the shed. The main part of the building is solid. The rafters are what look like logs. There is only a gravel floor. In some parts of the building, the floor is elevated with wood pallets. It’s an unsightly mess. See my previous blog post about the wacky outbuildings https://missykuester.com/renovation-update-outbuildings/. It will take a couple more weekends and another dumpster to completely dismantle it. So check back!
A marathon, not a sprint renovation
As I walk around I walk with my head down, looking for bits of junk. I kid you not, you can come across tools that somehow work their way out of the soil. And just to annoy me, are the bits of crunched-up plastic in the driveway and yard. I have no idea what it is or where it comes from but it irritates me. The previous owners shared how they loved living here. Some days it’s hard to see where the love was.
Recently, my minister asked me to a testimony about being in the figurative wilderness. After prayer and much thoughtful consideration, I contemplated what the wilderness meant to me. It reminded me of my drive from Washington to Utah and the vastness that I drive through. It is there in the wilderness that is I-84 that I have learned to trust in God for protection and provisions. Included is my testimony that I gave to the congregation at Cornerstone UMC in Covington, Washington. https://buildingonjesus.org/
We own a home in Northern Utah and have family in the area. Therefore, we travel from our home in Maple Valley to the Cache Valley in Utah a couple of times a year. On this route, we travel some isolated sections of the interstate. The most barren is I-84 in Northern Utah. Before we hit this section of the road, we stop in Twin Falls, Idaho for fuel and provisions. Once we make that turn south, services become scarce, cell phone coverage is weak, and the weather is indecisive. But the grace of God, we have never broken down in this section of our trip. However, we have broken down twice on this route but in more habited areas where we could receive assistance.
This stretch of remote, American highway signifies something else to me. It is a faith barometer. If I’m honest, this road makes me nervous. What if we do breakdown and there is no service area nearby or we can’t get a call for help out to someone? But that has never happened. I forget that even though there are very few services areas, weak cell coverage, and unpredictable weather, God is on that road. He is in the vast wilderness.
I have walked through a spiritual wilderness
In my life, I have walked through spiritual wildernesses. Through seven military deployments, when my son had a seizure on an airplane on a cross country flight, when another son was attacked by a dog and required emergency surgery, and when son number 3 fell out of a second-story window and needed to be life-flighted. In the back of an ambulance with your kid is a wilderness. Giving birth in a foreign country while your husband is deployed can feel like a wilderness. I have felt alone, rejected, scared, unsure, and ill-equipped while in the wilderness. But all along, God was there.
My spiritual walk is a growing process. I have learned many lessons along that desolate stretch of I-84. God has never abandoned me there or anywhere else. His provisions never run out. There is no place that God isn’t with me. He is the service area, the cell coverage, and the weatherman on any wilderness road we find ourselves on, both figuratively and literally.
A highway for our God
I am often reminded of Isaiah 40: 3-5
A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
We will find ourselves in a spiritual wilderness at some point in our lives. But we are never alone or without provisions. When we remain faithful, we have all we need.
The paved road that runs in front of my house turns to gravel just after my driveway. It then curves around the side of our property. If I go out of my driveway and turn to the right I can walk on the smooth, blacktop road. However, when I turn left out of my driveway, I have to walk on the gravel portion of the road and not a soul lives on that portion. Initially, Chris and I would walk the paved portion. But lately, I have decided to walk the gravel portion. I have begun to refer to it as the Prayer Road.
Walking with God each morning
My prayer life has wavered over the past 40 years. In recent years, I have made a concerted effort to pray each day. I have learned that prayer doesn’t have to be kneeling by your bed with your hands folded, eyes closed, and head bowed. No, prayer is more of a conversation with God.
I take daily walks with my dog, Delilah. Additionally, it’s a way to exercise and destress. Now, as I walk, I pray. I intercede to God on behalf of my kids, my family, my friends, even strangers who are suffering, and of course for our country and world. I prefer the morning so that I don’t get too busy and forget. But also, walking with God each morning helps me set the tone for the day ahead. I love the thought that things are made new each morning.before the world tries to spoil it. I love the peace, quiet, and stillness of the morning.
He promises us the morning and with it comes water
From Lamentations 3: 22-23 we learn of the promise of each new morning. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I love the thought that he promises us the morning to bring a new perspective, outlook, or outcome to our troubles.
Recently, I had a morning revelation. You see, we recently purchased an old farm. With an old place comes issues. One such issue is our well. It’s a natural spring. We have a cistern and if you use too much water all at once it freaks out the pump or runs the cistern dry. One evening not too long ago, it happened to me. There wasn’t much I could do. The old me would have freaked out. Instead, I prayed and went to bed. I woke in the middle of the night to the sound of running water. It was a precious sound.
He promises us the morning and with it comes the water. It was water for my soul and spirit.
The Prayer Road
The Prayer Road for you may look different than mine. In the meantime, I have the luxury right now to walk as far and as long as I want. I have always said that one reason I love to walk is so I can listen to music. Consequently, when I walk I listen to music, Christian music specifically but not always.
I’m a praying woman. But I haven’t always prayed expecting my prayers to be answered. I know that makes me an imperfect Christian but it makes me human. Several months ago when Magnum and I started talking about our plan when he retires from the Air Force in July 2021 I began to pray. I began to pray to settle on a certain town, area, or state. Then, I prayed for opportunities and doors to be opened. In addition, I prayed for jobs and housing. I prayed for God’s will but I failed to specify a time. They say timing is everything but God’s timing is not predictable. Opportunity knocks when you are doing something else. But I know this, with His timing comes his provisions. When God plans it, you can’t stop it.
If I could buy this place I would
Spring Break of 2019, Magnum was deployed. I decided to drive with Kid #2 and #3 to see Kid #1 in Logan, Utah. T is a student at Utah State. It’s our favorite place to visit and where his brothers wanted to go for the week. I rented a house, saw lots of friends in the area, got a surprise visit from one of my best friends, and cried when I had to leave to return to Washington. I felt a strong sense of home.
Fast forward, Magnum returned home in October and we decided we would go back to Utah for Thanksgiving. It’s been our tradition. Instead of staying at a hotel, it’s more economical to stay in an Air B&B. I selected a place in the country. It was advertised as a quaint farm. It would allow all of us to have a room so it was perfect and cheaper than a hotel.
While staying at the house, it snowed 8 inches overnight. We were surprised to wake up to no electricity and find out we were snowed in. But it was like being in a winter wonderland. If I didn’t need to get out to go to dinner with family, I could have stayed snuggled up in the house. I posted a picture on Facebook and jokingly said, “If I could buy this place I would.”
If God brings you to it, He’ll get you through it
Fast forward again to July 2020. We had big summer plans but then Covid-19 happened. So, we salvaged what we could and decided to go camping in Utah, the Cache Valley. On the way, we stopped at our friends, the Hughes near Council, Idaho. They have a beautiful place. Sitting on their porch watching the sunset made me ache for a place of my own.
We made our way to the Logan, Utah area and set up our camper in a campground. I then received an email from Kurt, the owner of the farm we stayed at the previous Thanksgiving. In March, I had told him that if he ever considered selling we would be interested. At the time, he had someone interested but their financing fell through. The very day we arrived, he offered it to us.
I immediately said yes and arranged to meet up with his wife. We had to pass her approval process first. In the meantime, we continued to look at other places just in case. After we met her and she approved, the process went rather quickly. We made an offer, they countered and at the end of the day, we agreed on a price.
We returned to Washington and finished the process with the assistance of our realtor, Johnnie. All along the way, things just worked out. We had some hiccups but I kept remembering the phrase, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”
Many people talk about the struggle to decide where they will retire after a long military career. When I prayed that prayer, I forgot how our God can respond; immeasurably more than we can imagine. I love Priscilla Shirer, author, preacher, and speaker. She talks about praying big prayers. We sell God short when we don’t pray bigger.
That’s why I am so content. I was along. For the next several months, we will divide our time between Washington and Utah. It is scary to think we will need to maintain two households. But I am certain that God will provide, He always does. 10 years previous to this, we owned a house in Delaware. Times were tough but we were certain we wanted to sell our house when we relocated to Texas. The house did not sell by the time we left and sat empty for nearly a year. All that time, we lived on less and paid a mortgage and a rental. God provided and He’ll do it again.
A change of address but an unchanged God
It is a season of big changes. We are taking them in stride. There are still a lot of unknowns but we are certain we are where we are supposed to be. We have a change of address but an unchanged God. God’s plans are unmistakable and they work out, you can’t stop them. Man, I’m so glad I rented this place for Thanksgiving. It gave us a chance to try it on for size. I’m also grateful that we live 13 hours away; we never could have done this living across the country. We have a lot of work ahead of us and big plans but God is in it. We’ll pass along our address with due time. Watch for updates on here, Facebook, and Instagram.
We are contemplating names for the ranch/farm, so stay tuned. Please leave a comment with name ideas.