”I can't wait to continue to grow up with you” is what I wrote in his scrapbook on his 1st birthday, and I have. He was the person that challenged me to shift from the desire to always strive for more to the ability to sit still and appreciate what is right in front of me.
Right after his 1st birthday, while I was away for work, he learned to walk. When I left he was a baby in arms, and when I returned, he was a toddler to chase.
At the time, I was the primary breadwinner, and my sense of self was incredibly wrapped up in my career. How could I give up financial stability and ego just for him?
The call that had been there from the moment he was first in my arms and never left me, and now it was haunting every thought.
The math didn't make sense on paper, and the idea didn't settle well with everyone, but a few short months later in an act of faith, I woke up with a new role, keeper of the home & full-time mother.
That became a season of rest and renewal for me that I didn’t even know I needed. Layers of protection pulled around me like a warm blanket. I hadn't just done it for him; I had also done it for me.
We had more kids, again and again and again and later, once again. I had done it for them too.
My marriage was strengthened in ways that allowed Nathan and I to become coworkers. I had done it for us.
We would be called as a family to use our farm in service and Carter would commit to full-time farming, knowing good and well how hard it is. I did it for community and the future of our food system too.
It’s only now that I can clearly see all the things the sacrifice was for, but I'd do it all again, just for him.
The first time I was told to, “go home” was when I was the child of a single mother in a culture where the good people were measured by certain outward appearances and the rest of us were labeled as “bad”. My mama tried everything. I was always dressed nicely, my hair was brushed, I obeyed, we showed up and were helpful. In the end, I was always still the child of a divorced woman. When girls had sleep overs, when people gathered or when they were chosen to participate I was told, “go home”. It was too risky to include a child that might lead other children to sin.
All the while, I knew. I knew my value. I knew what the other kids were doing when their parents weren’t looking, but never told. Places of faith were hard for me.
Later, I could remember being told to, “go home” again. It was at a Food event. I had poured my heart and soul into that day and there at the end my friend Amanda with the tamales and other women working to lean into their calling were told that it wasn’t going to be enough. I cried. I was vulnerable.
Deep inside, I expected everyone around me to see how strong I was, instead they said, “Go home and we will take it from here. Thanks for gathering these folks and helping us see this opportunity, but you need to go home to your family and rest.” That was part true.
I did need to go home. I did need to rest. But only to gather up strength to show up again, over and over again, and that’s what I’ve done. It’s there at home that we find our power.
We need the folks on the margins to gather up their strength and show up. They are the ones that know what we need to know. They make things work. They use common words in common ways to do common things that make life worth living.
Some of you may feel strongly about the words “go home” used against Beth Moore recently. Some of you may have no idea why those words matter, but those of you like me, know. Those words hit you to the core and your response might be, "I’ll keep showing up. Watch me. I’m just getting started.”
One of our employees snapped this photo of us and sent it to me with this message, “I know you take a lot of the photos for your farm, but I took this photo just as Nathan had jumped away to pick that flower to give to you and I thought I’d share.”
Nathan and I had been walking the farm and talking. We’ve learned to step away so that we can talk without distractions.
I was asking his opinion on a situation that doesn’t have any good answers, but as he always does he was reminding me of how we got to where we are today. Being honest, setting boundaries, doing the work.
I’m thankful that he doesn’t avoid the hard things and he’s always willing to do the right thing-no matter the consequences.
Most of all, I’m thankful he still takes the time to find me flowers among all the weeds and that our children and the people who visit our farm get to witness it.
This man is my refuge. He reminds me that it’s not only women who are tired, worn and confused. The men in our lives need compassion and grace as they lean into social movements they weren’t raised up to understand.
Gentle men like him are often holding space in quiet ways fully aware of the privilege they hold. Privilege he recognizes as potentially harmful if it means others who are perfectly capable of speaking for them self were to become dependent on him.
He has a desire to be available to help if he can, but he’s equally willing to simply stay out of the way if that’s what the situation holds. He does so in strength, not indifference.
There are times that leaves him a little bit lonely and wondering if his work has value. That’s the price he’s willing to pay for the joy he finds in watching others rise up to what they were sent to earth to do.
He’s proud of me, our children, and so many of you. He sees us and believes in us.
I hugged him close this morning and said, “thank you”. He smiled and said, “yep” and got back to hands and knees planting greens in the tunnel.
For the sake of us all, he goes to God for comfort, in prayer he finds approval. Praise be.
Art is often the way that we capture a moment in time that might have been missed otherwise. Could it even be the best way to tell a story that is hard to speak in a public way? It’s absolutely the best way that one woman lifted me up in a time when I needed it most.
@leslienicholsart did that for me and my story more than once and she continues to do so.
She is using her art to say that a farmwife in Kentucky who has committed to a life of contemplation that includes prayer, growing food, raising five children, and showing up in public spaces is an act of resistance to destruction and a commitment to the social needs she sees around her.
She placed my story there among a human rights activist, a professor and politician, an international communicates professional and respected community artist and teacher.
She used her talent and opportunity to give me the gift of seeing the “work” behind what might have been missed as simple mundane, everyday work. I’ll forever be grateful.
I’ve been keeping a secret.
Several years ago I took a look around me and discovered that so many of the women who are working to create positive movements were tired and worn. When I looked in the mirror I discovered that I was exhausted and defeated. I knew in my bones that any movement that takes the health, creativity, joy, and voice of a women couldn’t actually be creating lasting change.
In an act of desperation, I gave up everything I had ever thought to be true in exchange for anything that felt like peace. It was an experiment, of sorts, in leaning into what might be true.
I started taking bi-annual social media fasts (Advent & Lent). I allowed myself to be interrupted for prayer every three hours (The Hours). Every morning, I take a long walk outdoors (no matter the weather) and end it with an hour to myself for study and writing. I place my Common Prayer book on the alter of my kitchen counter to linger over the psalms (Lectio Divina). I go on quarterly retreat to Monasteries and surround myself with people nearby who encourage, support and lift me up.
My counselor, massage therapist, spiritual director, chiropractor, prioress and sage mentors keep me aligned. I drink plenty of water. I go to bed earlier, sleep in, and take naps when I need them. I eat protein and healthy fat until I’m satisfied. I move my body in ways that make me feel good. I take time to breathe.
In the beginning, it felt selfish and I wavered wondering if I was trading opportunity for wholeness. I often wondered what people might think if they knew I’d traded in the hustle and hurry for rest and renewal. What I discovered is that the spirits power is more available when I’m living into the care God intended for me. The ways we’re convinced that we have to compete and consume aren’t producing the fruit in our lives that we’ve been told they would.
When I show up healed and always circling back to wholeness the spaces I choose to enter, even when faced with challenges, leave me stronger, wiser, and more hopeful. One of the most powerful acts of resistance is to radically care for ourselves in the ways we want to care for others.
It’s really important that our children know the power of the Holy Spirit that’s within them. Power that can do good, or harm. They need both men and women who will model and speak words of truth to them in that. Thankful for my life partner and husband who is just as passionate and intentional about this as I am.
When we sit down and think about our children’s life, and education, we consider the whole person. Not the person they will become, but the person they are now. This is something we would do, and could do, even if we weren’t schooling at home.
Reading, writing, math, science, history all make the list, but with equal attention, holistic health, daily spiritual practice, social justice, compassion, integrity, work ethic, communication, collaboration, and the very real work of dying to self makes the list too.
Our hope is that we are going to raise integrated, healthy, balanced, joy filled, good enough humans that find life a little bit easier than we did.
What does that look like in the practicality of every day? It’s completely different for each child and we are always learning, failing, trying again. With Elizabeth, I’m encouraging her to speak her truth, ask the hard questions, wear the clothes she wants to wear, embrace authentic friendships, keep her commitments, consider all her options, challenge me when I’m wrong, read real books, and take naps when she needs them.
Grateful for how much fun parenting has become.
Between lunch and evening chores Carter can be found out here with his boat and fishing gear. He’s invested thousands of land hours preparing for the time he will spend on the water.
Every week, we gather as a family for prayer, study, and catching up with one another. Last night, Carter told us how grateful he was for how he gets to spend his time working, with family, and playing.
It made me grateful for Nathan who’s always been the wise steward of our time and resources. At any given time I could be thinking of more we could be doing, but Nathan intuitively sees all that we are doing-right now. He prioritizes rest, time at home, balance, time in nature-and it shows.
Doing within our means has made us more successful with our work. It makes me grateful for all the wise and quiet doers working behind the scenes and making the social movements of our day productive and possible.
I’m teaching my kids a lesson on balancing self-care and social equity from a place of privilege.
For years, I’ve been collecting comments and thoughts from myself and others on this idea. There seems to be a place in time where some move beyond themselves to do good, change things, make the world a better place.
Special things happen in those first moments we gift the world. We feel alive for the first time. We think we can part the waters and move mountains.
If we keep moving towards the light our darkness eventually shines through. It gets hard. Real motives reveal themselves. Hearts break.
It’s then that we have a choice to make. Numb the pain and avoid the truth or begin to die to self.
If we keep moving towards the light we learn how small our life really is. We see those who came before, those who will follow. Peace finds us.
We rest. We digest. We bury our sorrows. God takes those things we bury and in the right time they grow into something new.
As co-creators, with a fresh and new perspective, powerful moments of cooperation and reconciliation feel like enough.
Lean into the light, be willing to die, true life is waiting for us on the other side.