I need to stop saying never to things. Honestly, I think that is the lesson God has been impressing on me most clearly the past three years. A friend recently told me she never knows what to expect when she talks to me, which previously firmly held certainties I may be contemplating abandoning. We had a good laugh about it and she mentioned the notion of “holding things loosely”. Yes, that is exactly what I’m learning. Here is a short list of things from the recent past that I have said I would never do and that I have had to humbly retract:
*wear skinny jeans
*run a half-marathon
*homeschool (probably the thing I felt MOST confident saying never to. Haha! I’m pretty passionate about homeschooling now.)
*expand our family (I was pretty certain we were complete after Charlie)
*move from this home that I LOVE so completely
This post will focus on that last never.
I never thought I would leave this house because I designed it, I love it, and I would not change anything about it. Mostly though, I thought I’d never leave because I am so grateful for the blessing of it and this house is enough – so much more than enough. I have told God one hundred times that if this is where He would have us forever, I am fine with that. This house was such a gift and I would never want the Giftgiver to think me ungrateful. However, I’m learning that being content, yet holding things loosely is a fine balance. What if He has more for us? What if He leads us on to something, not necessarily “bigger and better” as the American Dream would teach us we should strive for, but something terrifyingly new and dream-fulfillingly different?
I’ve had a dream for a very long time. Not a secret, exactly, but not something I ever thought would come true. Not because I couldn’t pursue it but because it seemed too hard, and I was not sure I really, truly wanted it. I actually chose not to pursue it because I was afraid I had idealized it, romanticized it, and for many years I probably had.
And then about a year ago, I read “7: an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker and was challenged to re-evaluate the consumer-driven life I was leading. I started thinking about what and how much I was purchasing and where it was coming from. Just for fun, I started reading books like How to live on Almost Nothing and Have Plenty: A Practical Introduction to Small-Scale Sufficient Country Living, by Janet Chadwick and The Self-Sufficiency Life and How to Lead It, by John Seymour. I read inspiring blogs like The Prairie Homestead and On Just a Couple Acres. I started canning, buying organic whenever possible, and making my own laundry soap, eye-makeup remover and “no-poo” for my hair (just google it). I hardly knew myself anymore.
Finally, I read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv, and was deeply disturbed by the notion that this current generation, the generation that my children belong to, is the first in history to be so fully plugged in electronically and so wholly unconnected from nature. I suddenly had a vision for the life I wanted my family to have and I was no longer afraid of the hard work that inevitably would be ours if we pursued it. The miracle is that Caleb was given the same vision at the same time and that God opened doors and has orchestrated details in a way that allows me to know this is His plan for our family:
8 acres (5 pastured and 3 forested), a former goat farm with a barn and several out-buildings, the shop and tractor of my husband’s dreams, a house that is not my dream but is solid, well-kept and has much potential, a charming vegetable garden – fully fenced to keep deer out, a long gravel driveway (how quaint is the crunch of gravel under tires!), 6 apple trees, 2 pear trees, a plum tree and cherry tree
All of this is ours, including the cows, and if the neighbor’s bull has done his job this past month, we will have two calves in late spring. Don’t worry Mama Cows, I’ve purchased our very own copy of Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle and there is a whole chapter on calving. I’m sure we’ll be fine…
People ask me if either Caleb or I have farm experience or if we grew up on property. That draws a resounding, “NO! NONE!” And to tell the truth, I’m not really an “animal person”. I grew up with cats and got my first dog after Caleb and I married. I have struggled to love her because she is so very naughty. At 13, her life appears to be winding down and I am at peace with that. (It’s been a long 13 years – don’t judge!) But I really do want to change and grow in this aspect because I believe I have much to learn about my Creator from living life alongside His creation, specifically, the animals He has provided for our survival and sustenance. My attitude towards animals reminds me of something CS Lewis said in The Aboliton of Man about his feelings toward children: