The unofficial motto of Sabbatical Ranch is, "It's about the journey." It helps keep things in perspective when things take longer than you'd like, when the work seems harder than you'd like, and when things don't work out the way you'd like. It seems like every project we start is always more complicated than it appeared. We have a lot of projects we want to get done but it's not all about the destination, it's also about the journey. It's about the quality of workmanship. It's about the lessens learned. It's about the relationships built. Having a "why" makes life much more exciting. It's a real blessing to have a meaningful purpose to work on: Making Sabbatical Ranch a blessing for others! But whenever you try doing anything significant there are always obstacles to overcome. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Right? Attitudes are contagious and good ones make "the journey" a lot more pleasant. When you experience life's challenges, what kind of attitude best helps you overcome? We don't always get to choose our challenges, but we do get to choose how we respond to them. We can choose to have a good attitude or a bad attitude. A bad attitude makes a challenging situation worse because you tend to focus on everything that can go wrong, whereas a good attitude helps you see solutions. We tend to get more of whatever we focus on - problems or solutions.
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”– Unknown
Another aspect of "the journey" mentality is really counter-cultural to the American rat race. People are often in such a hurry to acquire stuff. But when they get the thing they wanted there's always the next thing they must have, so the hustle and bustle continues. They run hither and thither and at the end of the day, what was sacrificed and what was gained? Sadly, relationships are often what gets sacrificed. And whatever was gained soon becomes meaningless. Stop and smell the roses! What's the rush? What are your best memories over the last year? Wouldn't it be nice to make some wonderful memories with people you love? When you get to the end of your life, what do you want to look back and see? How was your journey? Most importantly, what does God think about your priorities? (Tip: He tells you in His word - the Bible. Read it for yourself.) When we had little kids, the most frequent advice we got was, "Enjoy them while they're young! They grow up fast." We took that advice to heart and really tried to make a lot of great memories. At the end of every year we would create or update "memory books" - scrapbooks of things we did and saw that year. It helped that we homeschooled our children - the world is your classroom and there's a lesson in every adventure! Some other helpful advice we got along the way was, "Spend less on housing and more on adventure." Of course that looks different for each person, but the idea is that house size doesn't add a lot to your happiness. Most people don't even spend much time there. But many people try and live above their means and they're always $10 short at the end of the month no matter how big their income. We learned to live below our means and be frugal so that we have the resources to do good when opportunities arise. Along these lines is the biblical principle of staying out of debt. People get stressed out with money problems because they were taught to acquire things with debt, but simple math shows that your money goes a lot further if you're not paying interest on your purchases. People feel stuck in jobs and lifestyles that revolve around making payments on all their debt. Talk about being locked into a rat race. Financial freedom is counter-cultural and takes discipline, but the rewards are worth it. Along with prayer, what helped us escape the debt burden was written goals. They say a goal without a deadline is just a dream. Making specific plans that are both a stretch and realistic, and writing them out with benchmarks and a time-frame for accomplishing each step of progress, becomes huge motivation as you work through it. Pray for wisdom, plan your work, work your plan, and pray for success.
“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
What makes "the journey" really fulfilling is being a faithful steward of mind, body, spirit and everything else the Lord has entrusted to you until He returns. Keeping a clean conscience goes a long way toward peace and satisfaction. You can sleep easy at night and enjoy the simple things and beauty of creation all day. With all this in mind I think the biggest secret of all is found in the following Scriptures:
“If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)
This is all we really need. Everything else is a want (ie. desires). Most of us have a lot more than food and covering. If we can be content and consider everything above and beyond as bonus blessings, we will be rich with joy.
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Our lives have been an incredible journey! We've been married 24 years. We've had poverty and riches. We've lived from coast to coast. We've seen all the most well known sites in the contiguous United States, from the wonders and marvels of God's creation to the settlements and sites from the founding of our country to the famous and infamous battle sites that shaped the direction of America to the greatest cities and capitals of states and our country. The only regrets I have is all the times I fell short of the glory of God.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
We walked away from everything a year and a half ago and are now embarking on a new adventure: Sabbatical Ranch! Like many things in life there's a lot more to it than we imagined. When feeling overwhelmed we always try and remember: It's about the journey!