Thankful to put 2017 behind us . . .

2017 was one of THOSE years.

You know . . . the kind you’re really glad to see end. The one where putting an X on the last day and turning the calendar page to a new year brings relief—and hope.



Surely you’ve experienced one or two of those.


When January 1, 2017 arrived, I’d just written the goodbye letter to my old house—the one we’d restored and called “home” for 11 years—and was eagerly anticipating building our Finally Farmhouse at Wild Rose Farm. We were six weeks into our Big Adventure, living on our land in a fifth wheel so we could be onsite during construction.


We’d just spent Christmas back in Texas with almost the entire extended family, and I was on an emotional high. Life was good, the unknown was still exciting, and our dreams were about to become reality.


Five days later, the joyful, downhill slide of adventure turned into an uphill trek. Fortunately we couldn’t see the entire path. We might have quit.


This year has been a emotional roller coaster.


Health challenges (and job transition) for my Renaissance Man


Face down for 4 days after eye surgery for 3 retinal detachments


Accomplishments (and always more to do) in work to revitalize our old downtown



Re-thinking our entire future, including where we want to live


Focusing on the beauty of Wild Rose Farm when Life required a much slower pace from two full-speed-ahead personalities.



Thankfully, it’s also been a year of peace—and choosing (and choosing again!) to trust.


I’ll be forever thankful we weren’t in the middle of building a house.


So what does Life look like for us in 2018?

I’m almost afraid to answer that, but there are a couple of “definites” . . .  🙂


When January 1, 2018 arrives, Renaissance Man will no longer be President of Hope Unlimited for Children. My trips to Brazil will be mostly (perhaps entirely) a thing of the past. Some of you may remember when I asked HERE what an organization is to do with success:  savor or share? (If you want to refresh your memory—or read for the first time—go ahead. I’ll wait. The words I wrote there are now informing our future.)

Hope Institute is now a separate organization with Renaissance Man at the helm. We are excited about the opportunity. We are humbled God wants to use us in this way. We are choosing (and choosing again!) to trust. This is a start-up, after all, and start-ups are risky on so many levels. But this is God’s work, and we’re trusting Him to go ahead of us and pave the way.


Besides continuing relationships with orphanages already trained in El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Philippines, the year ahead will be primarily spent working to build out the organization. I will help behind the scenes if needed, but mostly I will be uninvolved other than to encourage the two-person team and support my husband.


And yet . . .


I will be right in the middle of everything because my husband’s “office” will now be at home—in our cozy, 300 sq. ft. fifth wheel. Let the newest adventure begin!



So when, you ask, are we going to build our Finally Farmhouse?


God only knows—literally.


But we think it will be very soon.

  • Builder #4 looks like a good fit.
  • End-of-year transitions appear to be on track.
  • 2017 health issues are now stable.


We hope it will be very soon.
I miss having countertop space . . . and a bathtub . . . and a garage. I miss being surrounded by my pretties. First-world “misses” indeed!


We’re going to take the first couple of weeks in January to make a final decision. The idea that we could live anywhere is hard to embrace. Freedom of choice is wonderful, but sometimes it’s much easier to have a few parameters. Prayers appreciated as we hold everything loosely and try to be wise.


So what does 2018 look like for you? What are your dreams? Do you have any big (or little) projects—or trips—on the calendar? Any new family members to welcome? Are you in a good place physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually . . . or is there work to be done?


Happy New Year, my friends! May the year ahead be filled with God’s richest blessings—even those in disguise!


  1. A new year of hope. We must have hope. And, God’s grace carries us through our journey. Journeys that are definitely up and down. God, please keep us well, safe, healthy, and happy. Give us the grace to move forward.

    Oh, the joy we will share with you finding the right fit for your new home. I know the comfort it brings. I am mostly thankful that your dear husband has moved past some of the health issues.

    Hopefully, we have finished the big projects we had for our house, and we stay in maintenance mode. Although, we both realize the effort and expense of maintaining. I am so blessed with my dear husband, son, and grandson. My mother moved into long term care the first of this year. Her dementia continues to progress, but it has gone to the point that she is no longer angry. Strange as it may sound, that is like a gift.

    Susan, I always hold you close in my heart and prayers, and I count your friendship among my blessings.💛

    • Beverly, thank you for your kind and affirming words. I’m thankful your mother’s transition in 2017 brought peace into your life even in the midst of her decline.

      I’ve enjoyed your house pics on Instagram. It’s obvious you and your husband have put heart and much effort into making your house a home. Good luck with the maintenance. It’s always ongoing, isn’t it?

      I remain prayerful that the new year will bring God’s richest blessings to you and yours.

  2. You have had quite the challenging year! I’m glad things seem to be lining up now and I do hope your new house will soon be underway. I bought your husband’s book, Dirty Faith, and hope to read it soon on my Kindle. I kept your goodbye letter to your old house; it was quite touching to me. Wishing you God’s blessings in 2018!

    • Martha, thank you for stopping by today and taking the time to comment. It means a lot! I think about my old house with such bittersweet memories, but I’m thankful the new family loves and appreciates it. I hope to post a “full speed ahead” on our Finally Farmhouse soon…

      I’ll be praying for you as you read Dirty Faith. It’s a challenging read (on the heart and mind!). Sometimes I could only handle a chapter a day; so much to think about. I’d love to hear your thoughts when you finish if you’re willing to share. The experiences you’ll read about have certainly informed our choices over the last ten years, and laid the groundwork for Hope Institute. Thank you for your prayers in the new year! May yours be filled with God’s richest blessings as well.

  3. Susan, you have been in my prayers as you began this transition from your former home, then through the serious health issues with your husband. Those prayers continue as you head into the future with many unknowns! The way will appear!

  4. Susan I’m so blown away after reading this post. I don’t know where to begin but seeing that picture of your husband face down after his surgery looking so vulnerable pulled at my heart. Please tell me he’s ok now, gosh I hate to hear about accidents with the precious eyes. You both deserve much more calmness this year and yet, I suspect that you have emerged from those stressful experiences with a deeper faith. I am intrigued about your immediate house situation, wondering what you will do. As always I thank you for your amazing generosity and I can only imagine the sense of wonder and joy you’ve experienced at the helm of Your and hubby’s organization. You’re so awesome, truly. Thank you for inspiring me and also for being so generous with your time. Busy as you are you’ve found time to stop by my little blog and leave such authentic feedback. ..and I’m touched by that.

  5. LOL Leslie, LOTS of people are intrigued by our immediate house situation—and wondering what we will do. Join the club! Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. We live in hope… It’s going to be a great year!

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