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Never fails when our city friends come for a visit…

Wow! It’s so beautiful here! (especially if they come in the spring.) And so peaceful!

Or:

You really do live in a ghost town, don’t you!

They plan to relax from careers and demands left back home—then find themselves longing to become a part of our dream. Soon after arriving we’ll go for a walk, taking our time strolling through the almost half-mile-length through town, stopping to tell the history behind the ruins.

And I’m given a new opportunity to see this life from my once-rosy perspective.

And I remember my search for the illusion of serenity.

We caution them to consider a different kind of workload. Moving to the country requires an affection (or tolerance) for dirt and a commitment to survival on a different level.

Whether a hermit with squatter’s rights in a cabin of one-room, or a wealthy rancher on a spread as wide as his view, clutter piles. Dirt accumulates.

But after a rainstorm passes and the clouds lift, the sunsets descending over waves of hills are gorgeous.

Washers eat clothes. Toilets overflow and septic tanks have to be pumped. The cats leave their latest catch on the front mat, and owls drop gopher parts on my car.

But my spring and summer garden is a sanctuary on early mornings. For digging and weeding while bees serenade, collecting pollen from perfect blossoms on the peach tree.

And chaos threatens, no matter what color the walls are or how expensive the flooring. Especially the more bodies there are inhabiting our space.

In between fragments of serenity, unwelcome circumstances and anxieties press in on us, threatening to shape our thinking and our responses.

Where once I saw opportunity for rest, too many times my gaze falls on problems, responsibilities, and lists of tasks needing attention. We aren’t retired, after all.

On occasion, though, and always by surprise, morning sun spreads a prism across the living room. Or I catch an unexpected glimpse in a mirror or reflection in a window of serene beauty within my surroundings.

And God draws my attention back to Him, to whisper, Do you remember how I gave you your dream house… remember how I answered your prayers? Never forget how I’ve always met your needs… how I’ve always favored you with my provision, with my goodness. You don’t have to worry. Be still…

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After moving from one place to another all my life, I’ve lived here the longest. In the same house, in the same town. Both our kiddos graduated from high school here. And in this interior-style-challenged kitchen from a former era, the Preacher and I have stood after settling them into college. Eyes glistened as we embraced, unsure about embarking on new journeys, after returning home alone.

We’ve celebrated. We’ve sorrowed. And we’ve lived a lot of ordinary days and weeks in between. Feels like we’ve put down roots. Finally.

And I love it. Even when life gets crazy, and the house needs cleaning, and the weeds start taking over. Except for the days when I hate it. But now that I’m accustomed to country life, those days don’t come as frequent as they did in the early years of this adventure.

Because over the years I’ve learned, these surroundings only provide the backdrop. Real life is discovered and lived in a realm beyond the landscaping and furnishings—and the naked branches of my rose bushes after the neighbor’s goats escaped and found breakfast along our sidewalk!

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God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear… Come, behold the works of the Lord… Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.  –  Psalm 46

God is my refuge—my secure dwelling. Not this crooked house built where miners once panned for gold.

In the absence of Divine relationship, there is an absence of peace. How can one find peace when the Prince of Peace is not the One she rests in? Other deities are impotent, silent, nonexistent, or dead.  And their worshippers are left to manufacture substitute serenity, from the illusion of eternity’s possession having been left to human design. But they are mistaken.

As believers in this Peace, we have access to serenity that never fades, is never exhausted, and permeates eternity.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…  –  Deuteronomy 33:27

If you’re already a child of God, welcome home.

If not, won’t you come in?

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