Before the doubt came the plan. I have a large print out of this picture hanging on the wall right above my computer. And every time I look at it, I get lost in the possibilities. And the beauty. Because that aerial drawing is a work of art. The real thing, not so much. And then I get overwhelmed by the work before us. And the impossibilities. And the trash (previous owners used creek bank as dumping grounds). Not to mention the uncertainties. But then I look up again and these words flood the crevices of doubt, “If she would just look up and out, her problems would get smaller and forever with me would get bigger” (Jennie Allen, Anything).
And then this, “It is not thy duty to complete the task; but neither art thou free to desist from it” (The Ethics of the Fathers as quoted in The Beginners by Dan Jacobson). And I am reminded that He will complete the work that He began in me as I press on in the work that He has placed before me. What an honor it is to join Him there in that place. Of dirt and dreams. To give our time, money and lives to restoring a sacred piece of history and the beloved ones of God who need to sit a spell and get well.
And my eyes fall on the bunkies or blessing cottages tucked in the woods, and I begin to pray for the ones who will find rest there and restoration. In those moments of intercession, I feel sure and safe. And I want to be there now, but there is much to be done and questions to be answered first. Like, who? And, how? And really, where to start?
But first, the who. Because the one part of the dream that remains foggy is who will live with us on the farm. Oh, we have lots of ideas but I still can’t see their faces clearly. Can’t tell who they are or what they will need from us. Or how their presence will enrich our own lives. The one thing we do know is that God has used our story to prick our hearts for orphan care. So for right now this is the list that we are praying through:
* Orphans aging out of foster care
* Women in a crisis pregnancy
* Moms working a DHS plan to get their children back
* Families in peril of homelessness which could potentially lead to a DHS case
* Respite weekends for foster families
* Missionaries on furlough stateside
And then this message from a kindred spirit introducing me to her friends & another opportunity, “They’re also people of incredible faith and vision. And part of their vision includes what people are calling the Border Children. I’m sure you’ve heard of them…these children who are flooding across the border and then taken to holding tanks essentially to wait until they can go before a judge…which won’t happen for like years. If ever. And so these kids are essentially living in prison, and many of them experienced horrific trauma on their way up. Many of them come from Guatemala. Many of these children have “mamas” who are virtually children themselves. It’s a sad sad situation. Our friends have this vision for a place called Rescue Ranch–a place where these children could experience healing and family. Where the mamas could grow to be good mamas. A place where they could be experience redemption and restoration. But they haven’t found anyone who would want to help them make this vision come to life, and they certainly don’t have land.”
Snot bubbles, again. Because we have land. And we would covet your prayers as we seek His face in search of who we might see standing next to us reflected in His eyes. And we would ask that you might consider standing there too in solidarity, love, prayer and support, but also in your physical presence in the work of fences, bridges, barns and bunkies. And maybe even your life itself, because there is 5 acres for sale just one house down from the farm and a house down the lane that was recently taken off the market because it didn’t sell. Just a thought and another dream. To have friends join us in this place of living for one another and others.
But in the meantime, I need to know that you will at least come play. Please promise me that you will come play on the farm, because I will not survive out there or through all this without you.
And if you’re not sure, how about a few specifics from the physical plan to tide you over until the next time we “talk.”
As the farm stands right now, it has a farmhouse, little old barn, ancient cellar, and two lean to’s (one of which is close to falling down). We gave an audacious wish list to the landscape architect, and he created the plan you see above. The additions & changes we hope to make based upon that plan include (in no particular order):
1. renovating & possibly adding on to farmhouse
2. building a carriage house garage with an apartment on top (which we might live in while renovating or use as a blessing house)
3. converting little barn into a garden shed and chicken coop
4. removing old lean to’s and replacing them with small livestock & equipment barns
5. building a “party barn” by the pond to use for neighborhood gatherings, church functions, friend & family parties and Saturday night guitar pickin’ (including Taylor Thompson)
6. making a rope bridge across the creek to hiking and four wheeler trails in the woods
7. building a vehicular bridge leading to the cottages in the woods (this is where I fall on my face and feel the urge to fly at the same time, but more on that later)
8. and did you notice that little writing/photography studio nestled deep in the woods with the creek on both sides (be still my heart, I could write books there for sure or at least blather on here on this blog)
And then this little wrinkle when we met to discuss our dream with our pastors. One of them has the nerve to ask, “Is this the ministry, or does it fund the ministry?” And both of our minds were blown and we fell back to the beginning of even more questions.