A guest post by Johnnie Alexander
About a year ago, I moved from two decades of living in Florida suburbia to my sister’s four-acre hobby farm in western Tennessee. My little papillon Rugby moved with me, but only a few weeks passed before he wasn’t the only four-legged creature under my care.
My sister didn’t want to mow her sprawling front yard, and neither did I. So after researching our options, we bought four alpacas: Autumn, Winter, Sassy, and Starr. Over the next few months we acquired seven more: Charro, Di, General, Merry, Shelby, Snow, and Stonebride.
Though I grew up on a farm, I didn’t do much farm stuff. As the oldest of four, my chores mainly consisted of washing dishes, cleaning baseboards, and watching the youngest two children while Mom, Dad, and my brother did farm stuff.
But now I needed to learn about alpaca husbandry and something called herd distance.
You see, alpacas are skittish creatures. Though ours, especially young Starr and blue-eyed Snow, eagerly eat from our hands, they don’t like to be petted. Attempt to touch their luxurious fiber, and they’ll probably back away.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to get them where we want them to go. Get too close, and they flee. Too far back, and they head the opposite way. Like Goldilocks in the story of The Three Bears, you’ve got to get the distance just right.
Faith works both ways.
The herd needs faith that I’m not a predator. I prove this by paying attention to their body language and adjusting my behavior—and my distance—accordingly.
I need faith in my ability to appropriately respond to their cues so I don’t unnecessarily frighten them.
A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined living this kind of life. My personal circumstances had me as skittish as Winter, our youngest, who never eats out of anyone’s hand. But unlike our herd, whose faith seems to vary from day to day, my faith in God’s steadfast love rarely wavered.
During those unsettled months, through sermons, devotions, and Scripture, God promised me again and again to provide for me. Before I knew it, He had prepared a path before me. There’s no herd distance between us, only a minuscule “heart-distance.” Acutely aware of both my physical and emotional cues, He holds me as close as I will let Him.
Even though I may not always have the faith to move a mountain, I have the faith to move a herd of alpaca. And the faith to trust God to move me always closer to His will for my life.
“You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it” (Psalm 65:9, ESV).
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5, ESV).
About Where Treasure Hides
Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life. Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow. As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?
Johnnie Alexander is the author of Where Treasure Hides which won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011 Historical Fiction). The first of three contemporary romances, tentatively titled Into a Spacious Place, releases from Revell in January 2016.
She also has won the Best Novel and Best Writer awards at the Florida Christian Writers Conference is a 2012 Bronze Medalist in the My Book Therapy Frasier Contest.
A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas, her dogs Rugby and Skye, and assorted other animals.