Written by Leah Peterson @ Cooksley’s Clear Creek Farm

In tribute, after the April 2013 storms.

Romans 5: 3-5. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

007Growing up on a ranch, there are many lessons learned about the seasons of life. More importantly, rancher kids learn at an early age that death is a part of life. During particularly difficult years of drought and sickness and blizzards, we rancher kids would often see more hardship than what was probably appropriate for our ages.

After marrying my husband and turning our hearts towards creating a family some 10 years ago, I never dreamed that my own personal plans to become a mother would often mimic those difficult life lessons learned on our family ranch. As much as I had viewed new life, and many losses, I had no idea that those same feelings would be compounded in my life as a mother.

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March of 2006 brought a blizzard much like the one experienced on our ranch in Custer County two weeks ago. Those days are as vivid now as they were then, for they were marked by our grief after losing our first baby, lost in the middle of an almost life ending ectopic pregnancy. Four months later, we found ourselves hearing that baby number two was gone, that precious heartbeat had disappeared from the ultrasound monitor. The rest of that year and into 2007, I was numb to the world and all around me. Ask me now, and I still can’t tell you about that year and a half.

Then, in August 2007, another glimmer of hope. Pregnancy number 3, and the joyful and anxious anticipation that God maybe had a miracle for us after all. A pregnancy where Matt and I held our collective breaths the entire time, holding onto hope that this little girl would indeed be ours.

This week’s post is dedicated to that miracle. Our Maggie Bell Peterson was born April 24, 2008. She will be five years old this week, and not a day goes by where I don’t remember the perilous journey to her birth and the joy she has brought us since.

Maggie 1

The last several weeks have been trying for us at the ranch. We have worked 24 hour days, survived on very little sleep, and cared for animals that have fought for survival. Sadly, our losses have been high because of hypothermia and sickness and being bested by SH pairMother Nature. During moments of these dark days, my memories took me back to March of 2006, and it’s only by God’s grace and the ability to look at my Maggie’s face, that I have been able to pull myself up and realize that God’s mercies are new every day. That He DID fulfill the desires of my heart after gifting us a daughter in the midst of our hurts. Just as her birth day five years ago put a difficult season to rest, this difficult ranching season will pass. We will hold on to the promises of brighter days, and be thankful for the many gifts we have received.  We count our joys, because the good days will always outnumber the bad. We need look no further than the neighbors around us to see that our story is the same in every Ag family. It is a bond we share and it is timeless. Thank you farmers and ranchers for all you have done and continue to do.

Happy 5th birthday to our Maggie Bell. As James 1:1 7 says. “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above.”



Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.