off course

As summer really starts to hit its stride, I began thinking about the seasons left behind. We had a very interesting winter here in the Poconos. In all the places I have ever lived, I’ve never seen such a strange couple of months. It was pretty consistent, but only in the fact that it consistently snowed, then rained, snowed, then rained. And what an unbelievable mess that created everywhere. For us, it was a disastrous pattern of weather for our animals.

Our land slopes as you head back behind the house to where we keep our goats and donkeys so all the water run-off ends up there. The animals have a beautifully shaded area to hang out in, but during what seemed like a never-ending winter, they were pretty much in a nonstop slop. My husband and I take pride in giving our animals the very best, but it was out of our control. So much so that we had to make the difficult decision to give our donkeys back to the people we got them from because they seemed miserable. They had a beautiful pasture where they were from and although we loved them, we couldn’t stand to see them unhappy here and knew we couldn’t help in any way.

The other unpleasant part of this snow/rain pattern was that we never got to enjoy the beauty of the snow. We all know how sad it is when the white blanket turns black in towns and highways as soon as cars start to drive on it. But in your yard, you usually get to enjoy it for a bit longer. But not this winter. Even with quite a few inches on the ground multiple times, it all was ruined when the rains would start.

Throughout my book, I chronicle the journey I’ve taken, along with meeting my husband and our path together. For those who have lived in the same place their whole lives, it will seem unimaginable to think of moving as much as we have. I’ve had people tell me they can’t imagine packing up their house even once at this point in their lives. That always makes me smile because I think of the time my husband and I (about move #5) hired a company called 1 800 GOT JUNK to help us clear out the unwanted baggage. Just make a big pile and they will come get it. Fantastic concept. I have to say compared to most families, we probably have less accumulated “stuff”  just because of our moves and purging many times. But we still have our share of junk.

Some of our moves seemed like the unpredictable nature of winter. We would move to a new place and a blanket of beautiful white enveloped us as we embarked on a new adventure. We had promises of a wonderful job or excitement at being in a different part of the country. But sometimes that pristine layer of fresh snow turned black sooner than we would have liked or rains came out of nowhere, changing the beauty to sludge. And so we would travel on, and finally after 13 years of moving, we came back to Pennsylvania.

I never expected living in the Poconos would come with such a crazy weather pattern. We expected snow and lots of it. No problem. We’ve lived in Maine, Montana and Colorado, it’s not a big deal to us. But that’s not what we got. We got mud. We’ve had locals tell us that this winter was not normal, the weather just seemed to have been thrown off course. Ok, I get that, such is life sometimes. We’ve been there. Our planned course has been turned in directions we never saw coming, completely throwing us for a loop. We know that changes in patterns we come to expect in our lives can be a shock, but we still have to keep moving on. We’ve done that many, many times through the years, not by choice, but by necessity.

All we could ever hope for is that the next place God sent us would have pristine white crystals waiting to bless our path. And it has in many unexpected ways. We are grateful for the bumps and detours because they have made us who we are. Our journey is without a GPS, but our destination has already been plotted if we will follow Him.

We will still have junk, we’ve accumulated a lot in our years together. At this point in my life, though, because of all the places we’ve been, I realize no company can come pick up the pile for us. We must keep looking to the One who controls the weather and know that He will weed out what we don’t need, and unburden us of our baggage when the time is right. And that may mean change we were not prepared for, but we need to find a way to embrace it. If we let God take the lead, He will take our blackness and our sludge and make us white as snow.


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