“Giving up hope is for the hopeless.” – Lloyd Davis (played by Bruce Boxleitner), Love’s Everlasting Courage
Winter is a slow time on the farm, where we normally catch up on all the things we couldn’t do during the busyness of the other three seasons. We work on maintaining equipment, housework, repairs and reorganization, but it doesn’t fill our days quite as much. Since sunset is earlier, we are in the house sooner, and have the opportunity to also catch up on a movie every now and then. Last night happened to be one of those evenings.
The movie we chose to watch was Love’s Everlasting Courage. It’s a movie that is set in the early days of the settlers, and Clark Davis, along with his father, was trying to find water, in hopes of watering his fields and gardens during a severe drought. During another miss, Clark was ready to give up, but his father wouldn’t let him. “Giving up hope is for the hopeless,” he responded.
I cannot tell you how much that resonated with me. There are times we have worked weeks on end, from daylight to dark, and still weren’t able to fix or resolve a problem. Every day, as I work outside, I see an endless list of things to be done. Our barn is a prime example. It was originally ordered from Sears, and sent as a kit. The walls are painted plywood, the roof is tin and it’s held up with wooden posts. Unfortunately, some of the plywood has corners that have rotted away and sides that are ragged from sitting in water during heavy rainstorms. When it is pouring outside, I still need a raincoat inside the barn, as the holes in the tin roof are many. Although we have replaced the tin on the milking side, we still have to walk across boards that are spanning three feet of mud to get to the dry area where we milk, as the runoff seems to prefer that area, instead of in the channel we dug to divert it.
There are three pens in the back that are designed for cows. In one, a huge Bull Pine died, and is shedding limbs left and right. All that needs to be cleared out and burned. And then we need to tackle the fences. The money that will take is enough to choke a cow.
My garden? It is a continual work in progress, and no matter the fact I am out there daily with a hoe, the pigweed seems to multiply overnight. The freezing temperatures threaten to destroy all the work in the greenhouse in one fell swoop; a bull calf breaks his leg trying to get out of the hay ring; all breeding cows don’t take; the dogs killed another chicken; the lack of summer rain affects the amount of hay we have, lessening our income and ability to feed our cows through the winter; the septic tank fills up (sometimes with a baby calf); the list of frustrations is long and daunting. Too many times I have just fallen to my knees, muscles aching, sweat pouring, and tears flowing, overwhelmed with the large amount of needs and the balance in our checkbook leaning toward the red.
Still, somewhere deep inside me, I have hope. I am able to step away from the sheer mountain of things that threaten hopelessness to see the other side. I know I can’t give up, or give in. I may have to shift gears, choose the other fork in the road or bulldoze through the middle, but I know in my heart there is always a way around the problems. I just have to stop. Take a deep breath. Search for the successes, and lean on God and His timing.
And once I have done that, I find that a bit of peace has covered over the encroaching hopelessness, and I can get back up, take another step, and try again. My barn is at least still standing. My garden still produces enough to feed us through the winter. There are enough plants in the greenhouse for us, even if there aren’t enough to sell. The cows are healthy, and the chickens produce enough eggs to hatch out another batch. And every once in a while, I get the added blessing of a rainbow. I just hope this one means God is working toward getting us a new barn.