Knots on a Rope: JH Outback

Bradley Robertson


I like to look at my life with my family as a story. A story each of us is writing, as part of a bigger picture. Each member has their own place in our family story, each a character, walking their own path, but we grow and learn and love as a unit.

As much as our story is binded together, as family, we each as individuals have different parts that stick out and are unique. And, since all memories and ideas are different, the story told through each of us is also different. The story I tell of my family will likely not match the way in which they tell the story. And I love this. Like the gospels in the Bible, Braxton, Janie Belle and Shep will have a different idea just as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

It’s amazing really, one giant incredible story, told through many, that many may come to know the Kingdom of Heaven.

In our story, we have specific moments and memories that are so unforgettable they shape the rest of the narrative in a big way. I like to call these “knots on a rope.” It’s like looking at your past on a rope and being able to go back to each big “knot” that tied you into a greater meaning of life. And when you go back to those knots, you are reminded of who you are, where you came from and what God has done for you.

Each knot in our story, represents a holy moment. Like going back and saying, “Do you remember when God blessed us with our first born? Remember his head full of red hair? Remember how healthy and loud he was when he came into our world?”

We reach back to the knot of Braxton’s birth and we are reminded of Gods provision, and we can see that today, God still provides. Today he still cares and today, he still does incredible things through our lives.

Four out of five of our family members got a new knot on our rope just recently. The farmer and I took Braxton and Janie Belle on a weekend retreat to JH Outback. It is part of the bigger organization, JH Ranch, located in California. We were able to put our phones away for 48 hours and focus on the most precious thing we hold in life, each other.

Though our time together was short, it was the most giving and breathing 48 hours I have had in years. Proof that quality over quantity is fact. Our hearts were spoken to, our time was used well and our faith was strengthened through action and purpose.

One of the common themes at JH Outback is “I heard and I forgot, I saw and I remembered, I did and I understood”.

And so our weekend was full of memorable moments with our kids meant to knot a place in our soul that we can always go back to.

Would you believe me that the knot placed in my beloved Braxton was him catching two loose chickens in a haybale arena at sunset surrounded by 100 random people in bandana’s he did not know?

It was as comical as one can imagine. Tall boy, wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, running and diving for chickens. The entire crowd of soulful strangers, teens and adults, was cheering and laughing at the point of no return. While I, the mother, sat in awe knowing full and well, he was meant for a moment such as this. And proof that you can never take the farm away from the boy, no matter where he shows up in life.

The beauty of the moment was that my reluctant son was able to relax the rest of the weekend, have fun and open space for God to speak to him.

And so God did what only He does incredibly well, he used a chicken, a karaoke machine, a tent and a handful of amazing people to let truth and life shine into our relationship.

You see the knot on the rope of Braxton’s life will forever be the chicken he caught the weekend he spent at JH Outback, but under that knot are the seeds that God placed in his heart that will last him the rest of his life and into eternity. Seeds that he will pass onto his brother. Seeds that will take him through high school. Seeds that will see him into and out of his young adulthood. Seeds that will be planted and grow in spaces only God knows of.

Of course, my knot will be watching my son catch those chickens. His smile, his laughter, the crowd cheering and his joy at having fun. And under my knot is the gentle reminder God put in my ear that I must slow down. I must pay attention. My time on earth is precious, may it be used well. My hope IS in God. God hears, God answers and God provides in ways we can never imagine.

If you look back on your life as of today, what knots on your rope can you go back to and see the work of the Lord? I promise there are many. God does provide. God does show us the way into life everlasting. We just have to go back to our knots on our rope and remember.


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