Seven years ago, motivated by a consuming desire to experience and give “more” (not knowing what exactly that meant), we left a beautiful home and settled careers and bravely leapt into the unknown. We had carefully considered the cost and were willing to sacrifice what was necessary in order to seek a “country of our own” (Hebrews 11:8-16) We were somewhat aware of the financial and relationship costs- loss of income, retirement and health insurance, thousands of miles away from our older children, family and lifelong friends-but there were many other costs that caught us by surprise. We lost the ability to live “normal lives” as our eyes were opened to God’s kingdom on earth and His desire to have us join Him. We lost comfort, security, selfishness and even some treasured friends as our experience of God grew and changed our understanding (see note below.). We lost “home” in every sense of the word. But then we gained So. Much. More. We have been gifted with peace and connection and understanding and strength- and at the end of this season I realize that I am home. I AM home. I am HOME. Anywhere and everywhere. And God is always with me and will never forsake me AND there are always people around me to love and be loved by and His beauty faithfully surrounds me. I still can’t say why we felt the push to leave home and go on this journey, but I’m so grateful we did.
For three and a half years I have poured my heart out in South Carolina trying to scratch rock hard clay into a little natural farm and find community amongst people who appeared to be preoccupied and closed hearted. Fields and hearts require a great dose of nurturing in order to thrive, and I happened to land in a spot where both had been neglected for some time. Thirsty Goose Farm, this precious little piece of land and home born out of my heart, is the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. I wanted to throw down my shovel and walk away so many times. Instead I would stomp, cry, pray and shovel through the sweat and tears. I learned so much about myself, God, life, land and people in the process. I’m truly grateful for this season- every single rock, thorn and fire ant had something to teach me (first, avoid fire ants.) Seven years ago we had counted the cost, but we had no idea the blessings and riches that come in exchange for obedience.
This time it’s not an overwhelming desire or a lifelong calling/desire to serve in missions, but a string of unforeseen circumstances and months of seeking God that have led us to let go and leave, again. I would have gladly ditched the first couple of years in the midst of loneliness and frustration, but now the farm is beginning to thrive and relationships are blooming and I’m rather content here. I love the beauty and quiet, my sweet neighbors and the mountain view from my front porch. I love the inquisitive turkeys who follow me everywhere, the spoiled farm dogs and attention seeking geese. I’ve finally found fellowship and friendship and a job I really enjoy. I don’t want to leave. You have not heard much from me the last few months because I’ve been in mourning.
Preparing for a new season and trying to imagine what to do next, I quieted my mind, closed my eyes and imagined living a life that engaged the gifts, interests and passions God has planted and released in me thus far. It’s a beautiful bundle of lifestyle hospitality, regenerative agriculture, tandem garden/kitchen play, lots of outdoor time, caring for my neighbors, teaching life skills such as cooking, gardening and natural medicine, time with family, a joyful dinner table, animals, hiking and biking, plenty of stimulating books and discussions. A life lived according to what I value: love of God and my neighbor and creation, my family, peace, continual learning and growth, beauty, friendship. Twice I have undertaken this exercise and both times slammed me with the realization that this is exactly the life I already have. I am living the dream! Why must I leave it? I’ve been showing the farm to potential buyers and disqualifying them in my mind within minutes of meeting. Bottom line, I don’t want to pass this baton. This is hard.
While processing some of this sadness with my daughter, she said something that has been a whisper in my heart lately, “maybe you aren’t supposed to always live in this dream, but teach others how to nurture community”. Since leaving Alaska, our family has experienced over and over how we naturally walk in hospitality, gather and love people (It’s what we did at home in Alaska as well, but that was “normal” and it took getting away from the familiar to see the pattern.) Tiny condo, motorhome, rentals, farm, French chalet, bush African house- it was simple and easy for us. At the same time, talk about community and the need to be connected and belong has become a universal conversation all around us. There is a growing hunger for fostering of community (I think it used to exist naturally, but the changes in our world have made it more elusive and challenging to find.) My heart longs for every person to know that they matter, they are loved and belong. We have been faithful to sow this on a small, simple scale wherever we walk; it’s the seed God put in our pockets a long time ago and He’s been teaching us it’s value. Now He is increasing our desire to nurture this crop and increase the yield. Not because it’s what the world needs, but because it brings us alive, it’s what we were created for!
Once again we are stepping out, this time with more sadness then excitement, but still with faith that God knows what He is doing and He will be faithful to guide our steps. After talking with Grace today, I feel a new peace about what is next and a growing joy that God has experiences and lessons ahead that will make us more effective multipliers of the gifts He has given. We don’t know how, where, when or who. We don’t have a five-year plan, grand vision or even a clue! But we have Jesus, and that is everything.
Grace shared this poem with me, and the emotion of it really fit where my heart is- the poet’s love for the woods matches my love for this farm.
Note- the Greek word for repentance “metanoia” is translated “a change of mind” Repentance is a change of mind as a result of knowledge. As Scott and I have come to know God more, we are changing our minds about some of the theology we grew up with. As our minds have changed, so have our hearts and actions to match- this is biblical repentance. Seems to me we all have a life time of repentance as we should continually be learning and experiencing more of God. If I have not learned anything or changed my mind/perspective about God in the last twenty years, I would wonder if there is any relationship with God at all! With over 30,000 Protestant denominations- all with their own ideas of what scripture “plainly says” (but they can’t agree on even the basics because it plainly says different things to each of them!) surely there is room for learning, thinking and discussion without throwing fellow believers into the heretic hole.