The volunteers came, the horses came, and donations of tack, supplies, funds began to find their way to us and miracle after amazing miracle, the needs of this start up ranch were met.
Our sessions started at Kuster’s Wagon Wheel, a community barn in south Grand Forks. We were excited to have a location to work from, but not having control of the barn led to some significant concerns of safety and atmosphere. We came to know that we needed our own land, so we put together a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘wants’ and 'wouldn't it be nice'.
At least five acres but hopefully 10, a barn, close to town, a place for a garden, room for a chicken coop, a parking area, pasture and paddock space, parking space, and so on.
We searched on both sides of the river and to our delight we found the perfect place - seven acres, a big barn, and two extra barns that we could use for ahh...firewood, a house that had ‘potential’ and a leaning garage with a sun roof (hole) the size of a car.
After one of our youth mentoring sessions we loaded up the van with volunteers and headed to the property. Even though it was a little small, a little too far away, and a lot too run down... we all agreed, that this was it! It was the perfect place for Stable Days to call home.
We made an offer and were excited to have it accepted. We spent the next several weeks dreaming, budgeting and planning. It was all coming together.
And then it all fell apart.
Tears and disheartened spirits led us to question the future of Stable Days. “What are we going to do?” “Where are we going to run this program?” We found ourselves crying out to God, seeking his comfort and direction. We had been convinced that this property was God’s provision and losing it was tough. We couldn’t believe that the ‘dump’ in Buxton would not be ours.
“Sorrows may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Back on the hunt for land, we drove out to an abandoned golf course and supper club. We met a mechanic who was leasing part of the old shop. He shared with us the story of the River bend.
Nearly seven years before, on a Sunday afternoon, the River bend opened as usual, to serve their customers. After the lunch rush the employees were gathered together for an announcement. The restaurant would be closed! Effective immediately. No jobs would be spared. The new owner after winning the property with a good hand in a card game the night before, would be locking the doors.
The property would change hands again as the winner of card game, lost in life, and the property became part of a court ordered debt settlement.
Steve, the new owner, had been asked to sell the old Riverbend a multitude of times and for whatever his reasons were, he was not interested. We spoke with him at length about our mission and our desire to build a place where children, families and horses would learn from each other. Where they could look for and find hope and choose to love and be loved unconditionally.
Steve was in!
God, in his perfect timing, opened our eyes and stretched our faith. He patiently tested and taught us to trust Him, to trust that He would provide perfectly in His perfect timing. We were aiming low, God was thinking BIG! He wasn’t preparing a seven acre dump for Stable Days to serve families, He was preparing a 60 acre piece of paradise!
Rough, raw and amazing. We took possession of this land on the 15th of March 2012. The path once again was not what we had planned. The purchase of the land required the sell sale of our home, relocation and more renovations. But God had faithfully prepared our hearts for this change and replaced our desires with His desires.
We had prayed for land but our vision was impaired by our lack of faith. We were happy to settle a fraction of what God desired for us. We desperately wanted a shack at the very time that God was preparing a mansion.
So God stepped in and rescued us! He rescued us from our unbalanced enthusiasm, from our prideful “we know best” ideas and from our impulsive “we want it now, even if we’re not ready” impatient attitude.
Loosing the Buxton land and the plans that were attached to it was painful. When doors that we think should stay open close, it can be hard to trust that it’s for the best.
No discipline (or disappointment) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Persistently and patiently, God has been teaching us that His plan is great, far better than anything we could put together on our own. With each step required on this path, God strengthens our faith and encourages us to trust Him more,. So as we move forward, our grip will not fail, we will be ready for the trials that will come. We will be able to stand firm, and be fully devoted to the work we do. Pressing faithfully on, for God has given us much, and much will be expected!