Deflated, Not Defeated

For farmers and ranchers, our mood can change with the seasons. In the fall, we are excited to see and gather the harvest. In winter, we rest and prepare for the coming spring. As spring arrives, our “busy” ratchets up as calving, tilling, and planting fills our days with activity. The bursting forth of vivid colors and lush growth leaves this old farmer with a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of each long day. We anticipate the summer months, as we know the sun ripens the coming harvest. The longer and often hotter days of summer blesses us in two ways. It gives us more daylight to get things done and its heat often forces us to do things at a little slower pace.

Through it all, we take advantage of the quiet environment surrounding us and commune with God. The animals, who each communicate with us in their own way, don’t seek to fill the empty with noise. Instead, they join with us in the peaceful solitude of the space we call home. It is the closeness with God I’ve found through the peaceful, natural surroundings of the Cross-Dubya that I’ve come to treasure most. For me, nature serves as an intermediary host, inviting its Creator (God) and master and caretaker (man) to come together in its peaceful presence.

This summer has been different. The oppressive heat and no rain have left my spirit as cracked and dry as the land I so passionately care for. In the past 68 days, we’ve had 33 days with temps of 100°F or more and only 0.15 inches of rainfall. To some, it may sound strange when I say, “It’s not the heat and dry that bothers me, it’s what it is doing to all I care for.” I often think, I can go inside an air-conditioned house and have a popsicle, the land and livestock can’t. When I hear grass crunching with each step, watch the heat-stressed livestock’s rapid breathing, and see the shifting, cracked ground, my heart aches.

The heat of our trials can start to dry up our souls, but we don’t have to let it defeat us. #StrongFaith #CrossDubya #FarFromDefeated Click To Tweet

The other day, while monitoring the stock pond, I felt my spirit weakening. It’s difficult to tell from my photo, but the water’s edge has receded over 30-feet from where it normally is. The water level is at a critical stage and no longer palatable for the animals. It does little to help cool them as it’s over 90 degrees and what used to cover their backs now falls just under their knees. Like the water in my pond, we’re both a bit deflated right now.

In recognizing how this drought is taking its toll on me, I asked God to show me the causes of my coming spiritual drought. He revealed how I’ve let increasing feed costs, forage loss, fears of how I’ll make it through winter if I’m feeding my winter hay now control my thoughts. These are all valid thoughts for any farmer and rancher, but they should not be burdens we focus on. Of the many unanswered questions I have for heaven, one is what Elijah thought about when God sent him to Brook Cherith to rest and wait (1 Kings 17). In what I call an “Elijah moment”, I began to see through his eyes of faith.

God’s word doesn’t say, but I suspect that during his days at Brook Cherith, Elijah began to change his focus from the bad to the blessings. This place of peaceful beauty is where Elijah relied upon God to feed him through the ravens and quench his thirst with the flowing water. During his rest, perhaps Elijah chose to focus on the miracles and blessings he had witnessed rather than the threats and worries that led him here. In that moment, I realized a mind shift was needed. Instead of worrying about what may or may not happen tomorrow, I focused on the blessings coming from this. Some thoughts I’ve been focusing on throughout each day include:

  • God is sovereign and remains on His throne. He’s got this.
  • I’m supported by an army of prayer warriors around the world who are lifting me up each day.
  • God has brought the additional consulting and writing work needed to offset any financial burdens this drought is causing.
  • My herd’s health remains good overall and weaning time is almost here.
  • God led me to be the caretaker of this ranch; that means I’m to steward all He gives me, not all I want. He blesses my obedience.

Along with numerous verses I’ve placed around my surroundings to remind me of God’s promise to care for and protect His own, this change in focus brings renewed strength and resolve rather than doubt and defeat.

I’m certain there will be days ahead when I feel deflated, but with your continued prayers and support dear friends, and especially with God’s constant presence, I’m far from defeated. I pray this reminds you that it’s not about what the world is trying to do to us, but what God is doing within us that matters most.

God’s blessings,

Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

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59 thoughts on “Deflated, Not Defeated

  1. J.D., I am praying for rain for your region and others like it. May God’s peace surround you and Ms. Diane through this trial. You are right. It is what God is doing in us that matters.

    1. Indeed He is Ms. Cindy. Thank you for always encouraging me ma’am and lifting us up in prayer. Praying you and Mr. Dan had a great Anniversary getaway and all is well my friend. God’s blessings.

  2. J.D., I so needed to read this. Please add to your gratitude list this gift of writing so clearly that God’s blessing can touch others through your pen. Praying for relief, knowing His plan is perfect. Praying 2 Kings 3:17.

    1. Oh how you’ve blessed me this morning Ms. Rosemarie. My cattle are drinking “county water”, which is at least palatable for them right now, and I stand on God’s word with you ma’am that He’ll be refilling our pond very soon. I can’t wait to share the praises with you as He heals the deep cracks in the ground, breathes life back into our pastures, and cools us as only He can! God’s blessings sweet lady.

  3. J.D., I cannot imagine all you are experiencing at the ranch this summer. All I know is God is using you to raise up people (like myself) to pray for ranchers. He is also using you to encourage us all to remain focused, to keep our eyes on the Lord and trust Him in all things. You are so right – it is “what God is doing within us that matters most.”

    1. Amen Ms. Joanne. The amazing blessing in all this is that I feel God is using all of you to lift me up through this. Isn’t that just like God to work both ends at the same time. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. Oh J.D. you express this so eloquently. I continue to pray for good, soaking rain to refresh not only the land and livestock but also your spirit my friend. I love how you see God in all of it and I have no doubt that blesses and honors HIm.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Ann. We did get 0.6-inches of much-needed rain last evening; and yes, I was standing out in it with hands raised praising God. We need much more, but oh how good it felt to hear God’s reminder that He has not forgotten or forsaken us.

  5. Amazing to feel the wrath of heat as the livestock try to take it. Reminded so much of Habakkuk 3 from your words. So bleinngs upon you and Ms. Diane and floods of blessings upon your writings and counseling for a word well said means so much and amen.

    1. I think the most difficult part is watching the livestock suffer through it Mr. Terry. I’ve put misters in the barn, fans, and am keeping plenty of water for them, but the blistering heat and blowing dust makes days pretty unbearable for them. The nights when it barely dips below 90 are what scares me the most. I pray I don’t wake up to dead cattle from the heat stress overnight.

    1. Thank you Ms. Gail. We’ve gotten a little in the past day or so, and am praying plenty more so the pond can become life-giving again. Whatever comes, we’ll continue praising God for each day.

  6. Prayer is the special God-given sauce that we all need in the dry times. It provides the oasis that stills our worried souls. The land may be experiencing a physical drought, but you shall have showers of blessings! Praying for you my friend!

    1. Amen Mr. Ben, So right sir. Am so grateful for your prayers, and the fervent prayers of others, my friend. We feel them and know we are not standing alone as we petition heaven.

  7. Thank you, J.D. You’ve once again demonstrated that it’s one thing to declare our undying trust in God to provide for us when we have plenty, but when the resources dry up, it moves to a different level. Hebrews 11 talks about those who forged ahead “as seeing Him who is invisible.” That ain’t a natural thing. I’m sure that “seeing” clouds and the return of life giving rain isn’t easy when all you see overhead is the burner heating up the oven over your head. Our hearts and prayers join that army of fans who love and pray for you. We continue to be inflated by the news that you aren’t defeated, and are confident that you won’t be. God bless you for the seeds of faith you sow . The drought isn’t threatening them at all.

    1. Thank you Mr. Ron. How very true sir. This drought can drain us, but it can’t empty us my friend. Am I tired, distraught, and discouraged? Of course I am. Am I defeated and giving up? “I don’t think so Sparky!, You ain’t beat me by a long way Satan!” While my faith might wane and wilt under the heat of the trial, I’ll take singed edges if it makes me a “crispier Christian”. It is through the refining fires of faith that we are tempered. So many folks forget that. They also forget (and some may never understand) that it is in the quenching that the tempering is applied. I’ll use another’s explanation of tempering and quenching steel plate to demonstrate how it applies to a Christian’s faith. “By tempering quenched steel, it becomes less brittle and more ductile without sacrificing too much hardness. It is the combination of these two processes that produces a harder, tougher steel that’s more weldable and ductile than ordinary carbon steel.” Isn’t this the goal of every Christian?

      God’s blessings my friend.

  8. What a beautiful and powerful testament of faith. My heart aches for you in your deflatedness. But it also rejoices in your faithfulness.

    Thanks for showing us how to persevere through adversity and to give thanks in all circumstances.

    The rain is coming b

    1. Aww shucks. Thank you Ms. Candyce. We did indeed receive rain this past evening, as God answered our prayers on the same day this post went out. Now ain’t that just like our God? 😀

  9. Yes, J. D., what God is doing in us is what matters the most. We can feel deflated, but never should we feel defeated, as God can, and will, overcome all those things we now perceive as obstacles.
    I will continue to pray for you and yours and for the ranch, my friend.
    Blessings!

  10. J.D., I am praying God sends more rain for the ranchers, farmers, and animals. And I ask our Lord to turn hearts toward heaven that people might recognize their need of His intervention in their physical and spiritual lives.

    Peace and grace,
    Tammy

    1. Thank you so very much for your heartfelt prayers Ms. Tammy. They mean the world to us ma’am. And thank you so much for last week’s guest post on your tremendous blog. I was unable to post a comment, but did share, and encourage everyone here to pay you a visit ma’am.

  11. I continue to pray for you, Mr. J.D., and all of the farmers and ranchers trying to adapt to these drought conditions the best you can. So much wisdom in your writing, and I thank you for sharing the proper focus we should have through our trials. You are a good steward, a faithful servant, and a role model for us all, Mr. J.D.!

    1. How kind Ms. Tammy. I recognize that there are lots of folks hurting, with lots of different needs. I join you in praying they have wonderful friends like I have who are petitioning heaven on their behalf. We sometimes forget what a blessing and honor it is to go to heaven’s throne in intercessory prayers for another.

  12. In my family, we learned early on that “Attitude is everything. Pick a good one.” Facing legitimate hardship, you’ve done that well, JD. There is always something to rejoice over so long as our eyes and attitude are stayed on our sovereign Lord. May he continue to provide for you, his creatures as you follow his calling on the ranch.

  13. What a heart-stirring post, brother J.D. It’s encouraging to see you standing strong in the Lord despite the difficulty you face. He is indeed our Provider and Protector. He surely does have this situation in hand, and you are in His loving hand as well. Thank you for shining Christ’s character in the midst of your trial. You are a wonderful testimony to me and many others. May God send rain to your area, and may He refresh you in marvelous ways. “The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:25, NASB).

    1. I think, like many, I stand before God a weak and broken vessel most days Ms. Emily. Yet, I know that He promises to always put me back on His potter’s wheel and repair and reshape me to become a vessel He can use as He sees fit. Thank you for encouraging me to always seek His will and not my wants. God’s blessings ma’am.

  14. J.D., Jesus’s admonition not to worry about tomorrow has played through my mind a lot lately. Counter intuitive, but worry is non-productive. Praying for you and our nation.

    1. So true Ms. Debbie; it’s not productive, but I believe it a part of the “human condition.” I pray that as I grow in my faith and surrender more of myself to our Lord that they’ll be less of that to deal with, but recognize that until the day, it’ll be something to deal with. Thus, He gives us self-control. Of course, like any muscle, we have to stress it and use it for it to grow stronger. Amen my friend. Condolences on your family’s recent loss.

  15. “Deflated, not defeated.” That description offers much to ponder over. Defeated indicates loss and the end of something, but when we’re deflated, we can be pumped up again! It’s not the end, but part of the process, we’re waiting to be pumped up, filled with the Holy Spirit who guides us through all these trials. Still praying, my friend. Your faith and courage reminds us that God has this.

    1. Amen Ms. Katherine. The fight isn’t over ma’am, and you can be assured there is lots of fight left in us my friend. The key to our victory is remembering that the fight is not ours, we are merely spectators. 😀 God’s blessings sweet friend; and I’m praying you get some “liquid relief” real soon also.

  16. This was a wonderful word of testimony. I think of the Cross Dubya every day, especially when it’s raining again here and pray for the Lord to send showers of blessings on your land and herd.

  17. Your descriptions make me feel like I am right there in the heat. I am praying for God to send the needed rain soon. Your dedication to the animals and land is truly inspiring. Thank you for the reminder that we all go through trials and during those times, we can go to the Father and seek His guidance. God bless you.

    1. You are my friend. I sense the prayers of you, Mr. Alan, and many others who are lifting us up to heaven. Sometimes I think I’m like Moses, standing there as Aaron and Hur lift up his arms during the heat of battle. Thank you so much for all your continued prayer, support, and encouragement ma’am.

  18. J.D., I was so hoping this week’s post would bring better news. I’m sorry this drought continues. We pray onward for relief, the ranch, and for your peace. I’m thankful God is on His throne and sovereign, no matter what.

  19. This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:9 ” Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” In this world we will have trouble, but still he says “Be of good cheer”. Why? Because he’s got this and he’s faithful.

    Your faith encourages me, JD.

  20. I’m praying for God to continue to encourage your spirit as well as send rain. It’s hard to see the cattle suffering and wonder how long God will let this go on. But we know He has a purpose in all He allows. As Cowper says in his hymn:

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding ev’ry hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.

    “The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:11, NKJV).

    1. Amen. “Light Shining Out of Darkness” is one of my favorites too Ms. Barbara. Thank you ma’am. It is difficult to see the livestock God has entrusted me with suffering through this, but I am certain God knows I will go without myself to care for them.

  21. Covering you in prayer my dear friend. So happy that you got some relief but praying for an abundance of refreshment for your land and soul.

    1. Thank you Ms. Yvonne. I felt God was reminding me yesterday to keep standing strong in my faith. He’s not done with me yet, and He most certainly hasn’t forgotten or forsaken me ma’am. 🙂 It renewed my soul a bit.

  22. Praying for rain and your continued trust in God which encourages all of us to trust Him regardless of the kind of drought.

  23. Our weather has broken here in Pennsylvania. I’m sure the farmers would love to see more rain. May God look after your herds. May He grant drenching rains.

    Thank you, JD, for showing us your heart. Many, many blessings to you, in Jesus’ name.

    1. So glad to hear that things are returning to normal for my PA friends Ms. Nancy. I know it’s cyclical, and it’s our time in the barrel so to speak, but am amazed at how the frequency and intensity of these natural events are occurring. Almost like labor pains (Matthew 24). Perhaps the earth is indeed crying out ma’am. Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

  24. How wonderful our God is that He has met you in your greatest need right now–not an end to the drought and heat–but the ability to look beyond those to the blessings you do have right now!Not an easy thing to do when each day you’re confronted with the hard things! I am one of those continuing to pray for you and your critters and land!

    1. Amen Ms. Kathy. While our drought is far from over, being able to “hear from God” through this small shower refreshed my spirit more than the ground I was standing on. As I hope my post communicated, while I was spiritually parched as I waited on God to answer my plea, I was not less leaning into Him through faith, and my confidence that He would deliver me and bless this land never waned. I choose to believe that God saw I was tired, hurting for the right reason (what was happening around me to those [even the animals and plants] I care for instead of focusing on what was happening to me) and He blessed my obedience. Thank you ma’am.

  25. This is so touching, JD, and I am encouraged by your trust and faith in God to get you through this season of drought and heat. I especially rejoiced the other day when we had torrents of rain, and I could see you dancing in the rain in my spiritual eyes. I see I was right! I love animals so much and hate to see them suffer, but God also loves and cares for them. Like the sparrow, He will us all through.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. God never promised us that we wouldn’t get tired and discouraged in our struggles, but He does promise that He will be faithful to stay with us through our struggles if we keep holding onto Him. In my mind’s eye, I often picture God holding my hand (His mighty hand wrapped around mine), as though I’m the little child and He’s the parent. What’s important to me in that mind picture is that by faith, I know He will NEVER let go of me. His hand is holding me even if I let go of His hand. That, my friend, is the confidence I pray we all learn to have in God.

  26. J.D., I always appreciate your perspective on God that comes from depending on the land to produce. These days I, too, feel weary, so your encouragement comes at the right time. Isn’t God great?

    1. Thank you Ms. Annie. Sometimes, knowing we are not alone in our struggles does make a difference. When I pray for rain and God’s provision, I try to include my neighbors around me. My heart breaks when I think of farming and ranching family whose very livelihood are tied to the next cotton, corn, or soybean crop. Whose yearly income and farm loan repayment is tied to the calf-crop. The heat and dry is keeping both produce and livestock from growing to their full potential. It’s becoming a “buyer’s market”, which means the prices we get for produce, grain, and livestock is going down, while the retail prices consumers pay is going up. It’s hard, but God has prepared us to weather the hard times; they are what makes the good times more enjoyable. I’ve long believed, “It’s the bad that makes the good better.” God’s blessings sweet sister.

  27. Just reading your title made me think of these verses from II Corinthians 4. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” That is you! I hear your suffering; I sense your pain for those things you care about. It hurts. Heck, it makes me ache. There is hope and it is on its way, my friend.

    1. Thanks Ms. Karen. We’re tired, thirsty, and beat up here, but we’re far from being finished and Satan will not derail our faith as hard as he tries to. Weather folks suggest we’ll see a change in weather patterns the end of this week, and while it may be too little too late to recover from this drought it will be a welcome sight for sure. Whatever God chooses to bless us with or help us to endure, we know He has our best interest at heart and He will bring good from all of it. Thank you for your continuing prayers ma’am.

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