I interviewed him once for my Girl Scout God and Country badge.
I asked him about his faith journey and what brought him to the pulpit.
He told me a story of being a college student in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and walking in the woods.
The young man who had grown up in the city of Philadelphia with it’s noise and bustle, thousands of miles from home, finding clarity in the stillness of the trees.
My nine year old mind imagined there was snow and a booming voice from God asking him to head to the seminary.
In reality I’m sure it was a quiet whisper that guided him to Gettysburg.
Turns out his story chased me here. The little girl that heard his words sought her own calling.
I found it in the stillness. When all else was stripped away it came by whisper.
When he spoke of a longing of the heart, he spoke of me here.
Each day finds us feeling a little more familiar with this place.
As animals come to find their home here, we come to understand how their presence adds more life to our lives.
The barn, now warmed by their bodies, has become welcoming.
Girls in the pasture curled up with puppies.
Goats trailing waiting for a treat.
A cat that has yet to kill a mouse, but looks regal in his pursuit.
Each morning the act of that barn door swinging wide feels like the opening of a present. You wonder what you will find.
As we settle in to this life of service, to a place that demands much, we find ourselves, a little more of who he is calling us to be.
The days pass.
No time to write or walk.
It’s become a gallop.
This life living on the land always demands more.
So things fall away.
The evenings lingering over books or laughing at the screen have become chores and projects and watching sunsets from the pasture.
There is a ton left to learn.
With each new morning comes an opportunity to understand how little I know about our rural way of life.
Forgive me for my absence.
As the sun begins to set later and the bones become tired from the work, my hope is my fingers will find a place on the keyboard and sharing more of this beautiful place will be my blessing to you.
January 12, 2021
You have always been the girl with the bright eyes and big heart.
My tenderhearted child, you taught me how to live in the moment, to chase sunsets and rainbows.
It feels, most days, that your mere presence brings the sun.
Thank you for sharing your fun facts and your thought provoking questions;
for your show stopping hugs and your up for anything attitude;
and thank you for loving us through the hard days and laughing with us at the good.
Audrey Hope you make me proud.
Being your Momma is life’s greatest gift.
When you look back at this year I hope you can see the rose in spite of the thorns.
I will always be here.
Together, somewhere between a dance party and a book club, we will navigate these teenage years.
You are my joy.
Happiest of birthday’s my baby girl.
I love you.
P.S. The song is so fitting! What do you think about trying this on your guitar???
The coming came from a quiet whisper, a longing of the heart.
The desire to raise girls connected to a place, pieces of memory to carry them through life.
The same had been given to me, a beach house in North Carolina became an island off the South Georgia Coast I could gift to them.
First coming with a baby in diapers and continuing to come after a broken marriage threatened to break us.
As one could expect this place calmed the storm, healing was found on her shores.
The smell of cinnamon rolls and the 8am crew sitting watch in the corner rounds at Sweet Mama’s will forever line their senses.
The sunrise cups of coffee, East beach walks at sunset, the dogs on the shore line, the days spent lingering in stores, the laughing over plates of saltwater morsels, the masses at St. William, these will be what carries them through the hard days.
Sidney, who first came at six years, now looks back on ten years gone and finds the place has woven itself into the soul.
As independence sits at her doorstep this momma can’t help but be grateful for the gift of a place.
This Christmas I will bask in the joy of sitting with the salt at her feet and knowing that roots have given her wings.
September 24, 2020
Dear Ellery Jane,
When I look back on this year for you,
when I see the changes you’ve had to endure,
I am simply amazed by you my precious child.
There was online school thrown together, then a move to the farm.
After a summer of adjusting to the rural world, you were thrust into a new school, a place you’d never been in before, with people you didn’t know wearing masks.
And you showed us all.
You made new friends.
You talked openly about the hard parts.
You reminded us that living in joy doesn’t always mean life’s easy.
Thank you for your honesty, for teaching me to live in truth.
Thank you for your beautiful words each morning and night.
Thank you my wild eyed, inquisitive, imaginative child for making our lives so beautiful.
I love you more then words can say.
Happiest of birthday’s.
Your one and only Momma
PS- I think we can dance to this one don’t you?
The smells of this place,
the rustling leaves,
the gravel drive,
it will some day fade to memories.
They will laugh about the bonfires that lit the sky ablaze and led them to screech out words to him, wondering whether he would set the barn on fire.
They will be haunted by the coyotes cries.
Their eyes will probably midst when they see an old women feeding ducks at the park pond.
Nothing ever turns out as you imagined.
This blending of families, this his and hers merging to form a space called ours.
One day, they will wonder whether he and her had questioned, had they feared the hardship, the work this place could bring?
Then, very quickly, their gaze will shift. They will think of the love and the weight of the word will come,
Once upon a time there was a girl who dreamed of a man and many babies.
She hoped to raise a family and find a place for her life’s work.
It was long, windy road that brought her to today.
A journey of what could have been turned to what is.
When she opened her heart she found herself home.
And now as they raise six girls and build a life on the farm, she remains forever grateful to the man who stepped in.
The one who said yes to the dreaming; who opened her eyes to possibility.
Sometimes she stops to pinch herself, to breathe in the moment.
How could this broken sinner find such joy?
The girls in the dining room fighting over board games, the ducks, the chickens, the dogs, the cold mornings doing chores, the uncertainty of what lies ahead; all of it makes sense with him.
This is the place where she doesn’t feel alone.
Together they have made a home.
Three years gone.
Many more ahead; until the well runs dry.
Then, there was a day
where she learned to live less from habit and more from intention.
She stopped thinking in terms of what is next and instead worked towards what is.
She began to live life in seconds not hours. She found the fruits of the forest while looking intently into the eyes of her child.
Her mind filled with the gifts of the day, giving all she had to the work at hand.
Tomorrow’s worries will remain.
Today she will stand firm in the place he’s planted her.
These things come naturally to him.
How to build fences, repair pipes and rearrange pastures.
To me it’s all foreign so I do what I know best.
I spend hours researching sheep breeds, farming grants and microloans.
I watch webinars on flower farming.
He would prefer to be in our forest, walking the land, naming the trees.
We are learning to meet in the middle.
He’s teaching me how to drive the tractor.
I’m reminding him to reach for me.
When he doubts I point him towards what the research has shown.
We are learning to open our hearts to what each can offer, learning to be a team.