Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
In the spring of 1970 my husband and I decided that we should move our family from Texas to the Colorado mountains. It was during a time of great upheaval in our country with riots and potential political revolution. (Sound familiar?) Not only that, the public school system had become so secular that our oldest daughter was actually instructed to make a choice between whether it would be worse, spitting on the flag or the Bible. Therefore, we believed it was time to take our children away from non-biblical influences to a place where we could protect them from soul and physical danger and educate them ourselves. At that time, almost the only parents who taught their own children were missionaries and those who had handicapped children. We researched educational materials that such parents used, turned over our business to our partner, and moved to Colorado to become homeschooling pioneers.
Our Human Plan
In order to be financially able to accomplish our mission, we partnered with five other families to lease-purchase 180 acres of beautiful, pine-covered land that was surrounded on three sides by 1.8 million acres of national forest. At the end of a year, we would have to buy the property or lose our lease. However, if we could not sign the $360,000 loan, our group would still retain ownership of a 15-acre portion in a remote corner of the property for our $30,000 down payment and efforts to buy it all. Thus the owner became a partner in our venture. Rick’s plan was to sell travel trailer sites with water, electricity, and sewage on a portion of the land in order to pay the annual payments with its income. It was a reasonable plan that was accepted by all of the other members.
By our human thinking, we believed we could buy and sell, and make a profit.
When we originally started our search for land, we planned to live in a small travel trailer we bought for our travels while we worked to develop the property. Providentially, there just happened to be a log cabin with a nearby running stream on the land where we could move our family into instead. We siphoned water from the stream into the cabin (we merely had to keep the ice broken in the winter to keep the water flowing). There was old Ben Franklin stove for heat (lots of wood to chop), a hot water heater and stove for cooking, a telephone (when it worked), and electricity for lights (except when the electricity was out due to a storm). Our plans appeared to be perfect and even a little romantic. It was a little like becoming a Little House on the Prairie family, only in the beautiful mountains. However, as often is the case with human plans, there were problems from the beginning.
Hindrances to Our Human Plans
- The Durango Colorado planning commission was not very cooperative with “outsiders.” Therefore, it was taking longer to get approval for developing the trailer sites than our partners wanted.
- Two of the five partners decided they would not wait for government approvals for allowing water and sewage on the property. They prematurely set up their mobile homes and a steel storage building on the land we did not yet own. This premature and unapproved action caused the planning commission to be even less cooperative. They then proceeded to cut a road through the national forest into the 15 acres we would eventually own, but without first obtaining government approval. Therefore, the US Forest Service cited us for damaging its property and we had to re-seed the damaged area. This self-induced fine caused more tension within the group.
- We were never able to resolve all the problems between the group and the planning commission. Praise God, after the lease had ended, the Lord provided another buyer who agreed to buy the property, but only if I would agree to help manage his own business from going bankrupt. I agreed to his demand if he would allow the group to have their 15 acres around the cabin where they had already planted their mobile homes. Then, I renegotiated the sale of the property with its owner who agreed to accept the new buyer only if I would also sign the contract.
- The new buyer agreed to give each of the five families their original investment money back, plus allow each of them to receive the share of land I had requested for their own use. However, he insisted Virginia and I were to have perpetual use of the cabin and the acre around it for our share.
- Soon after this, we moved back to Texas to fulfill my commitment to the buyer to make his company successful and therefore able to pay the payments on the property. It was then that the two Christian couples who had been long-time friends became angry at me for not making the business successful and for our being given the cabin for which we had never asked. They spread discontent among the others in the group and even went to our pastor and accused us of cheating them.
- Sadly, our pastor never talked to us about the matter. He just accepted their word.
- To invalidate their accusation of fraud, we gave up all rights to the cabin and ANY of the land so their claims against us would be proven baseless.
God’s Divine Plan
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
During that year in Colorado, God taught us that our plans were not His. He showed us that He could take events we considered devastating and produce positive results. There was great personal suffering during this difficult year, but God gave us greater grace.
He turned a painful experience into the beginning of multiple blessings.
- This was the first year we homeschooled our children. We all learned so much! We not only taught our children, but we were being educated ourselves.
- Rick taught us daily Bible lessons for the first time. Our children have mentioned that what they learned then remains with them to this day.
- During this time in the mountains, Rick and I concentrated on learning God’s Word. We listened to two-four hours of Bible tape lessons daily. Applying God’s Word to our lives became a daily necessity and a great blessing. For instance, just before our friends turned against us we were studying David’s experience with his rejection, abandonment, and persecution by others. God prepared us ahead of time to be able to handle our own painful experience.
- This was the year we met the man who eventually hired Rick to be Business Manager of his company, Accelerated Christian Education. Several years later, Rick became CEO and Director of the Board of Alpha Omega Publications. These two positions resulted in our helping start thousands of Christian schools as well as becoming leaders in the early homeschool movement.
- Rick wrote the book What the Bible Says About Child Training and then gave hundreds of child training seminars in churches across the nation. He also was keynote speaker at over 40 state homeschool conventions .
- I wrote On the Other Side of the Garden and God even empowered me to overcome my natural shyness so that I could speak to several groups.
- After a hostile takeover of Alpha Omega, we lost our retirement, medical insurance, and income. We had to sell our home, put our belongings in storage and go on the road in a travel trailer to speak in churches and conventions to sell our books. We did this for a year before our health deteriorated and made it necessary to stop traveling.
- We then moved into a mobile home in Arizona. For nearly five years we did not know how we would be able to live month by month. However, our gracious God always provided everything we needed.
- It was during this time that Rick wrote What the Bible Says About Suffering, which has been reviewed as a theological study on the topic.
- Just when we were at about our lowest point, God provided a job with Family Ministries in Sacramento California where Rick served until our retirement. It was during our time in California that we were able to begin to repair our ruined financial situation. It was also during this time that I wrote Victorious Women, and Rick wrote What the Bible Says About Being a Man.
- When Rick retired we returned to Arizona and bought a home so we could provide for Rick’s recently widowed mother. We were her caretakers for almost three years until she died at the age of 97.
What God’s Plan Produced
The path God took us on has produced far greater returns than what would have been accomplished by our developing a travel trailer park in Colorado. None of our books would have likely been written if we had been successful with our “human plans.” God’s plan intervened and sent us on an alternate path that caused us to travel through heartache and suffering, but led to abundant blessings.
God provided for us through it all: chastising us when needed, lovingly forgiving us, encouraging us when we were down, teaching us His Word, guiding us where we needed to go, teaching us to depend on Him in all things, and providing ministries that could have only be accomplished through His power. We humbly and gratefully give Him all the glory for what He has accomplished through us.
There are other times in my life that I thought I was going one way but God had other plans. Because of what He taught me so many years ago, I can now confidently advise the reader of this message not to fear or be discouraged when your plans seem to go awry. If you are going through events in your life that you do not understand, simply pray and trust God that He will make all things work together for good. Relinquish your plans and accept God’s will for your life. His vision is far greater than anything you can imagine.
To Him be the glory and honor forever. Amen.