Letting Go

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.

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beautiful peach blossoms

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.

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farm visitor getting some love

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.

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Emily trying to weave grapevine wreaths with helpers

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.

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three year old apricot tree

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!

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Grace’s pavlova creation for neighborhood gathering

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.

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Male turkey, Ed, in children’s garden

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.

Mary Oliver
In Blackwater Woods
 

Look, the trees

are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.
 

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.

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mastering whole grain, no knead sourdough bread

 

 

 

 


9 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Putting you back on my daily prayer list as you go through this time of transition. Please keep us posted.

    David P Wilson

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  2. Beautiful writing Lalena . I wish I could have seen your farm, and you when we drove to Charleston in October from Springfield , MO. What, where is your next adventure? You are strong , good luck , and keep in touch !

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. Plllleeeease come live next to us. (Maybe Montana?!?). Let’s build community together!!!! I love you and cannot wait to see you soon!!!!

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  4. Oh, the journey of those who seek God and His perfect will. We desire to live peacefully with our neighbor, yet we often allow our differences to be larger than our love. People are messy. We are all messy. Some find they can love one person and overlook the mess, but not another. The problem with people is that we are all born into sin. Eve lived in a paradise, yet she listened to the liar and in her selfish, sinful nature decided she wanted the one thing God had said ‘no’ to. Then she shared it with Adam and in his selfish, sinful nature also wanted it. Eve blamed her choice on the serpent. Adam blamed his choice on Eve, then even blamed God for giving him the woman. Let the blame game begin.

    Then their sons lived with jealousy and one took the others life. Never have people been able to live in perfect peace. Those of us who want to follow God gather together, but all the family reunions have issues. Uncle Bob is lusting, Aunt Mary is gossiping, cousin Philip is stealing all the brownies, and on and on. Our selfish, sinful nature destines us for trouble.

    God gave rules for His children. He has expectations of how they will behave and He is pretty clear on those. The world thinks He’s a tyrant for making rules and then enforcing punishment. He made those rules for His children. Only those who call him their God. So if one follows another god, they are under His authority just not under His grace. I gave my children rules, not the neighbor kids. And when my children broke the rules, I punished them. My rules were not to be out of a dictatorship or evil, but out of my love to protect them. What is worse – to have my hand slapped when I reach to grab a pan of hot oil, or to pull that boiling oil over my head and wear the scars for life? Which is merciful? Which would a loving parent do?

    Christ came along to make a way for us to get back to God. Our sin had separated us with an impossible chasm. Christ was willing to build the bridge by giving up his life for us. I heard a woman say, “I hate the songs that say we are wretched. I’m not a wretch.” Yet she gets on Facebook and posts wretched things about people she goes to church with. If we aren’t lost, we don’t need a Savior.

    Every once in a while someone comes along and says, “the Bible means this” and there are those who will agree with him so they unite. But it won’t take long before the dissension comes and divides. And another person will say, “I understand what the Bible says – it means this.” And people follow what sounds good to them.

    I have three children and though I am one person, I approach them differently because they are each precious, unique individuals. My message of love is the same as I love them each dearly, but they have different love languages. So even tho I am the same, I try to communicate my message in a way they can each receive it and understand it. If one of them came to the other and said, “Mom came to my house and cleaned out all the closets and cupboards. Isn’t that wonderful?” Another might say, “That’s so invasive. Why didn’t she just take you out to lunch?” Service says love to one, but quality time over a meal says love to another. God’s Word does not change. It’s His Living Word. And through His Spirit He can speak His love to each of His unique children.

    I’m so grateful that Jesus came, and out of His Great Love paid the price for my sin. And I’m so grateful that I don’t have to have degree upon degree to come to Him. He didn’t make it difficult. I understood even as a child that He loved me – through the Word – and that if I listened to His instruction, I would remain under the protection of His mantel. If I choose not to listen, I can scream and rant that He wasn’t there for me – but He is. It is I who choose to stay under His mantel or walk away and stand unprotected by my Father’s love. And being loved by Him makes me desire to become more like Him, to stay in His Word, to grow, learn and share Him with others.

    Keep seeking Him, my precious daughter. He hears you in your garden when you cry out, “Daddy?”
    I love you.
    Mom

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  5. Oh, the journey of those who seek God and His perfect will. We desire to live peacefully with our neighbor, yet we often allow our differences to be larger than our love. People are messy. We are all messy. Some find they can love one person and overlook the mess, but not another. The problem with people is that we are all born into sin. Eve lived in a paradise, yet she listened to the liar and in her selfish, sinful nature decided she wanted the one thing God had said ‘no’ to. Then she shared it with Adam and in his selfish, sinful nature also wanted it. Eve blamed her choice on the serpent. Adam blamed his choice on Eve, then even blamed God for giving him the woman. Let the blame game begin. Then their sons lived with jealousy and one took the others life. Never have people been able to live in perfect peace. Those of us who want to follow God gather together, but all the family reunions have issues. Uncle Bob is lusting, Aunt Mary is gossiping, cousin Philip is stealing all the brownies, and on and on. Our selfish, sinful nature destines us for trouble.

    God gave rules for His children. He has expectations of how they will behave and He is pretty clear on those. The world thinks He’s a tyrant for making rules and then enforcing punishment. He made those rules for His children. Only those who call him their God. So if one follows another god, they are not under His authority or grace. I gave my children rules, not the neighbor kids. And when my children broke the rules, I punished them. My rules were not to be out of a dictatorship or evil, but out of my love to protect them. What is worse – to have my hand slapped when I reach to grab a pan of hot oil, or to pull that boiling oil over my head and wear the scars for life? Which is merciful? Which would a loving parent do?

    Christ came along to make a way for us to get back to God. Our sin had separated us with an impossible chasm. Christ was willing to build the bridge by giving up his life for us. I heard a woman say, “I hate the songs that say we are wretched. I’m not a wretch.” Yet she gets on Facebook and posts wretched things about people she goes to church with. If we aren’t lost, we don’t need a Savior.

    Every once in a while someone comes along and says, “the Bible means this” and there are those who will agree with him so they unite. But it won’t take long before the dissension comes and divides. And another person will say, “I understand what the Bible says – it means this.” And people follow what sounds good to them.

    I have three children and though I am one person, I approach them differently because they are each precious, unique individuals. My message of love is the same as I love them each dearly, but they have different love languages. So even tho I am the same, I try to communicate my message in a way they can each receive it and understand it. If one of them came to the other and said, “Mom came to my house and cleaned out all the closets and cupboards. Isn’t that wonderful?” Another might say, “That’s so invasive. Why didn’t she just take you out to lunch?” Service says love to one, but quality time over a meal says love to another. God’s Word does not change. It’s His Living Word. And through His Spirit He can speak His love to each of His unique children.

    I’m so grateful that Jesus came, and out of His Great Love paid the price for my sin. And I’m so grateful that I don’t have to have degree upon degree to come to Him. He didn’t make it difficult. I understood even as a child that He loved me – through the Word – and that if I listened to His instruction, I would remain under the protection of His mantel. If I choose not to listen, I can scream and rant that He wasn’t there for me – but He is. It is I who choose to stay under His mantel or walk away and stand unprotected by my Father’s love. And being loved by Him makes me desire to become more like Him, to stay in His Word, to grow, learn and share Him with others.

    Keep seeking Him, my precious daughter. He hears you in your garden when you cry out, “Daddy?” I love you. Mom

    >

    Like

  6. You’ve lived such a rich and full life. I often envy all of your experiences! Enjoy your next journey as God will bless you wherever you go. . I know my girl and Greer will miss you. Jeanie Malone

    Like

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