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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
~Lao Tzu

It is mid-November, and blissfully there is not much farm news to report on. Instead of tending the garden late into the twilight hours or using the extra summer daylight to finish projects and chores, Caleb and I are now often found sipping tea (or wine, depending on the day’s course) on the couch watching Poldark or Seinfeld reruns after the kids are in bed. That is definitely a fall/winter treat. This quieter time of year also gives me a chance to reflect on things of the soul, some directly farm-related, some not quite as much. But you know, I’m realizing, almost everything relates to everything else. Truly.

I will never forget moving to our farm three years ago and my wonderful neighbor said she was fairly certain our cows were pregnant because she had not seen them in heat in a couple of months. I was completely mystified. How would I, who had never even been near a cow, ever know such things? It felt completely overwhelming. In fact, I spent the first two years on our property in constant anxiety and tension, wanting to know it all immediately, trying to figure everything out, manically reading books and buying animals. Over time I had the gradual realization that, thankfully, our survival does not depend on these ventures. Anything we do not raise or grow we can buy, and we will simply do the best we can with what we have, what we know, and where we are. This brought much peace and convinced me to just move forward one step at a time. I will also never forget the first time I went out to my cows and I knew Annabelle was in heat. What was the magic? Time. I spent time, a few minutes, most days with Annabelle. I knew her habits. I knew her looks. I recognized the change. There was no short-cut to this knowledge or success. And later that day, when I saw her son getting frisky with her (don’t worry, he’s a steer), my suspicions were confirmed and I did a happy dance. Hello, I’m a farmgirl!    

Perhaps it is because I have a “big” birthday coming up and have been reflecting on the passage of time, but this year I have endeavored to not despair at what I’m not (yet), but to strive even if it’s at a snail’s pace (have you seen me “run”?) to move forward. I am realizing more and more that all of life is a marathon, a long-haul… not a sprint. The “big picture” of our lives, which is the tapestry of our hopes, our desires, our successes, our character, are all comprised of day-by-day, even moment-by-moment, choices.

 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward 
what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize 
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 3:13-14

Of course, here Paul is talking about eternal life and everlasting joy with Christ, which is the supreme goal and prize. But as I mentioned above, everything relates to everything, and God’s truth is woven through every corner of my life, or at least it should be. Pressing on toward this ultimate goal is done in the daily moments of life while straining towards many smaller goals, all the while striving to know Him better and make Him known.

But what do these small steps look like in daily life, besides hanging out with my cows? I have often fallen prey to the malady of coveting the end results I see in others while laziness or discouragement keeps me from making even a first step toward the goal. Getting started is usually the hardest part. There is so much I want to accomplish/be/do that I feel overwhelmed. What’s the point of even trying? For instance, if I pick up this book and read, there are still a thousand other good books that I have not touched. So I’ll just waste these ten minutes on Facebook, and these ten minutes hitting the snooze button, etc. But a year from now, I will wish I had started today. And a year from now, those ten minutes each day would amount to sixty hours. How much literary ground could I cover in sixty hours? With this in mind I have begun to snatch back those few moments of time when I can. They are a gift. I’m keeping a list of all the books I’ve made my way through this year, both reading and audio. I am amazed to see how those chasms of time have added up. My best friend and I started a classics book club, something we had been thinking about doing for three years, and we are working our way oh-so-slowly through a booklist with some other ladies. We should finish in 3-5 years. When we do, I will be very glad I started. I’m glad already.

Last spring I started walking one morning per week with my neighbors. In the past, I would have thought that one walk per week hardly seems worth getting up early for. I often fall into the “all-or-nothing trap”. Well, my pressing-on perspective realizes that even if that’s all I did each week, that one 4-mile walk, would add up to 208 miles in a year. That is certainly worthwhile. And that one walk has spurred me on to many other walks and now even runs each week. I’m learning that some is absolutely better than nothing (in more areas than just exercise) and my aforementioned birthday is reminding me that I really must keep moving forward, quite literally.

It isn’t glamorous to simply put one foot in front of the other each day and sometimes it is hard to see the difference being made in the present. But those steps of mundane faithfulness comprise the whole of a beautiful journey. Press on!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
~Hebrews 12:1-2
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