If you were to visit Timber Butte Ranch you may notice a sign hung high under the crown of the barn. The sign hangs above all the other structures, having a superior vantage point as if speaking to all that happens below. It simply says, Timber Butte Ranch – Established 2005 – followed by the Latin words “Quarite Primum Regnum”. It is strange that few visitors comment on the sign; maybe few even notice it. The important thing for us however, is that it is there and has been ever since the barn, the first structure to be built on the ranch, was completed. Three obscure Latin words, unrecognized by most, yet powerful because they speak of the vision and destiny of our small homestead. They are the statement of our dream for Timber Butte Ranch and everything we endeavor to do on it. They are words representative of how we once answered the big question (see step one), and is our life statement of vision. They simply translate, “Seeking first the Kingdom”.
Having vision is more than just having a good idea. True vision is lasting and long range. A life vision lasts an entire lifetime. It may dim during seasons of discouragement, sorrow or distraction, but if it’s true vision, it will always have a way of re-emerging in our dreams, moments of solitude or purposeful contemplation. It beckons for re-engagement and physical response. Authentic vision stimulates passion, conviction and drive. It is the thing that gets us up in the morning but demands steps of faith, acts of courage and tenacity.
Having vision which incorporates a more simplified life will challenge a person to redefine the things once accepted as legitimate goals for success. Prosperity will no longer be measured in monetary wealth or the balance of an IRA, but instead the richness of relationship and life. The expensive house with two new cars in the garage will lose its esteem, now becoming replaced with the desire for a more modest home with possibly a bit of land to grow food. The simplified life replaces the cultural pressures and resulting stresses for climbing corporate ladders with a more selfless life which sees higher virtue in elevating others above oneself. It is a life where selfish ambition is replaced with godly ambition, where extravagant consumerism becomes recognized as indulgence motivated by selfish feelings of entitlement. The simplified life gradually reduces ones big footprint, transitioning it into a larger handprint; a life that uses less and produces more. It is a road less traveled for certain, but one which in the end leads to destinations of greater satisfaction, authentic joy and genuine faith.
Vision requires more than words, it demands definition and a working plan. We’ll be discussing the process of developing that plan in future segments of the seven step process, but for now let me illustrate what I mean by defining a vision. The best way I know to do this is to share our vision for Timber Butte Homestead.
“Quarite Primum Regnum” or “Seeking first the Kingdom” is short for words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew where he said, “…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. Jesus was responding to the human questions, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ His answer exhorts us to seek Him and his righteousness and if we do, we won’t have to give all of our energy to the cares of this world but will be given a life of substance and meaning. For Nancy and me, we wanted much more than a status quo life. We had a dream to participate with Him with and to be used by him. We wanted our lives not only to reflect His will, but help others achieve it as well. Achieving such a life might look different for different people but for us it meant rendering down our life to a specific type of lifestyle. It had always been in our hearts to create our home as a place of hospitality not only for our own family and friends, but for people who desire to bring positive change to a hurting world. We wanted to create a home where people could come and share their dreams; a place for collaboration and training specifically for those who saw the value and need for a more sustainable world. In the end Timber Butte Homestead became that place. Over the years we have hosted many dozens of leaders from NGO’s, Mission leaders and Christian outreach ministries. There were three elements we focused on as we developed the ranch into a destination conducive for this kind of activity.
The first of these three things was to build the homestead as a living example of sustainability. In a sense you might say, we wanted to practice what we had been preaching concerning becoming Godly stewards of His creation. As most people are aware, the world is becoming rapidly unsustainable. As the world population approaches eight billion people the decline of basic resources of clean drinkable
water, rich farmable soil, reliable energy sources and a changing climate are becoming looming threats to the future of humanity. It would be our goal to build Timber Butte Homestead into a place which would produce most of our food needs organically. That includes vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry products and wine grapes using animal waste for nitrogen rather than chemicals. We would build efficient watering systems, utilize solar energy and build with local resources. This web site has been dedicated over the years to share these kinds of activities.
The second element is hospitality. It was our vision to give Timber Butte Homestead personality and make it more than a functional place, but one with character. Many of those who come here come from other parts of the world. Many have a vision of Idaho and the American West but haven’t experienced it. We wanted the ranch to represent Idaho and fit into its natural beauty and landscape. For that reason we constructed a guest cabin that had the ambiance of the Idaho wilderness. When folks come here we feed them homegrown meals and serve them wine produced from our own vineyard. It is important to us that those who come experince our vision for sustainability not to simply be told about it.
Most importantly, the third element is relationship. For us Timber Butte Homestead is about family and lasting relationship. We have purposefully not built a retreat center, but a home. When leaders come they become a part of the family. Most join in the work, pruning grapes, and harvesting, stacking hay, planting or mending a fence or two. It has been a huge part of our vision to engage our kids and our grandchildren in every part of our lives here. Our vision from the beginning has been to make this a place for family to gather, play and celebrate our life together.
For us, this all falls under and reflects the three words, “Seeking First the Kingdom”. God is the center of all we do, and as we seek him for direction and vision first and foremost, He adds onto us a great gift of purpose, life and rich relationship. This is the power of vision that comes only when we turn to Him asking Him to reveal to us what He has put in our hearts to do – answering the question, “What is it you want?”