Our family lived in Dallas during the school year. On weekends and during the summer, we lived in one of the ranch mobile homes. One summer our housing was needed by other staff, so our family moved off the ranch property.
We rented a cabin on a lake 15 minutes from the ranch. The one room cabin had an enclosed porch and a small bathroom with sink, shower…and a toilet that was to be hooked up soon, but never was. The outhouse worked. Our three children slept on the porch. Sally Jo and I slept in the one room – the foot of our bed against the refrigerator. The cabin was on a small peninsula which provided privacy and an occasional breeze.
On a weekday night, when I was in Dallas, Sally Jo and our children heard a boat go along the shore around the peninsula. Several men were gigging for frogs and obviously drunk. Talk about feeling vulnerable!!!
Five mornings each week Sally Jo gathered together everything needed for the day. At the ranch she would supervise the 5 acre garden, help in the camp store – do what was ever necessary. Our oldest daughter, Carla, loved to work in the barn. Jenna and Dirk would stick with mom, or play with other staff kids. After lunch Sally Jo and the kids had an hour together with other staff in the beautiful swimming pool. When at the ranch, there was no place we could call our own that summer.
Every Monday morning I would drive the two hours into Dallas to work in office. During the week I would write notes on contributions, write checks, keep up with government contributed surplus food forms, talk with camper parents – and work out of the office with donors, Sky Ranch Board members. I would speak occasionally. Most evenings I would go to our empty home, fix some food, do more paper work, and go to bed. I pushed hard so I could get back to the ranch on Friday as early as possible. All of this was made tougher because the Dallas office building was air-conditioned to 68 degrees, the outside temperature would be over 100, and the temperature within a car that had been sitting in the sun for several hours was unbelievable. I would feel sick every time I went in or out. On Friday I would drive the two hours back to the ranch where it would be hot and sticky. As the summer went on, the situation became a grind, but we saw no choice other than to push on. “Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” — Romans 12:11
One week Sally Jo and the children made a poster of the fruit of the Spirit. On the paper tree they put cut out fruit labeled “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” — Galatians 5:22. Later she shared with me that when the children were cutting out and labeling the fruit, one of the girls asked, “why doesn’t daddy have these?’
I felt weak! In that summer’s grind to keep up with life, I had forgotten what was most important. This question, asked 30 years ago, remains heavy on my heart.
In my desire to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”, I had trampled the truth that serving is to be filled with His spirit, and that the fruit of His Spirit should flow out of me, most importantly to my family. Jonathan Edwards said, “The Holy Spirit gives us the power and strength enough to overcome our weak inclinations so that these holy exercises will prevail over our weaknesses.” The Holy Spirit gives us the power and strength, but we must be intentional about becoming Christ like, about living the fruit of His Spirit.
Thankfully, our children told me long ago that I have changed.
Hopefully, I am still growing in the fruit of the Holy Spirit as I live In Partnership With God