Lessons from the Farm

Most all children have some sort of desire to own a pet as they are growing up.  In the case of my children, all of them have been begging for various pets over the years.

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Their desire for a pet, I believe, comes from a healthy place: they desire for love and affection; a physical creature they can hold and cuddle, pet and hug.  They have a desire to care for a living creature, to feed and play, to teach and train.  They desire to have a friend, a companion that will never leave them for someone else, a connection with a living thing that they can depend on.  Having a pet teaches them responsibility, discipline, and compassion.

But, having a pet will also teach a child (and adults) another valuable lesson in life.  That lesson is the truth of our mortality.  For children and adults, myself included, we usually think and experience life as a sort of condition that will never end.  We seldom stop to consider our limited time here on earth.  In fact, I dislike thinking about my limitations, particularly my eventual limitation to continue to sustain my own life.  Instead, I enjoy focusing my attention on increase.  I distract myself from limitation by learning more, building more, earning more, traveling more, interacting more, and connecting more.  And all these activities of increase are a good and proper pursuit.  But, to get back to my point, a valuable truth that every pet will eventually force us to reflect on is that of  mortality.  This week, our family was reminded of that truth.

Three weeks ago we purchased six chickens.

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They came to us in a box and after we brought the box to our house and opened it up, all the chickens immediately jumped out and did what chickens do.  They pecked, scratched, clucked, and explored their new home with curiosity.  Each member of our family gravitated to one of the chickens and we each individually claimed one as our own and gave it a name.  French Pigeon, Hatshepsut, Determined, Butternut and Tomato.  But one chicken was unlike the rest.  One chicken, after several minutes of the other five chickens traversing their new territory, still remained in the box (see picture above).  “That is my chicken,” Eva yelled with gleeful excitement.  “I will name her Bombabay.”  Eventually we tipped the box on it’s side and slowly, the odd chicken came out.  Upon inspection, we noticed that the chicken had a few feathers missing, and that she had obviously gotten stuck on the bottom of the pile of chickens during transport.  Though she seemed to have had a rough ride with her other fellow chickens, we had hope, especially Eva, that she would become an excellent pet chicken.

But as the days moved along, we noticed that Bombabay continued to act differently than a “normal” chicken would.  Instead of staying in close proximity to the other five chickens as they scratched the ground together, looking for grass and bugs to eat, she tended to stay by herself.  She seemed healthy, but appeared to be a very anti- social chicken.  When the kids would throw out feed, the chickens would all come running, except Bombabay.  She would slowly and cautiously meander to the feeding spot and, with extreme care, would attempt to eat a piece or two of the feed lying in the grass.  Her fellow chickens were frantically trying to gobble every morsel of food they could possibly find, pushing, shoving, and pecking each other, inconsiderable of others around.  Bombabay was obviously uninterested in the competitive rivalry and instead, choosing to move on, once again, alone.

She was our special chicken.  Though she was different, she was loved, especially by Eva.  She seemed disinterested in living like the other chickens, who were self-absorbed in their desire to do whatever it took to get more than the other chickens.  She chose not to participate in the “rat race” of chicken life, but instead submitted herself to the bottom of the pecking order (literally).  She always got less and never fought back.  Lonely and desolate, we eventually separated her from the rest so she could eat without being abused.

Then, three days ago (Thursday), Bombabay took an unexpected turn for the worse.  She appeared ill, her once red crown on her head drooped down and had only a faint pink color.  She moved even more slowly then before and we became concerned for her.  Calling a friend who has years of experience raising chickens, she recommended us feeding her raw garlic, as a way to help her to heal.

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But it was too late. Instead of getting better, she got worse.  By Saturday morning (yesterday), she was lethargic and the appearance of life within her seemed dim.  Lydia held her, stroking her brown-tan feathers and speaking words of love and affection to her.  But even the power of a young girl’s love is no match for the truth of death that will befall us all.  In her arms, Bombabay passed away.

We had no idea that we would be having a funeral for our pet-friend that day.  It was outside of our plans.  It had not even been a speculation the day before that this was within the realm of possibilities.  Bombabay reminds us all that, from time to time, it is healthy, and necessary, for us to reflect on the sacred and precious nature of life.  To more fully appreciate our limited days here on earth and to not get overly consumed by focusing only on ourselves but rather on what is the most important in life.

As our family gathered around our now deceased pet bird, we prayed and cried and said our last words of peace to her.  Then, as all city-slicker farmers do (I imagine), we dug a hole in the ground and built an ornate grave worthy only for a chicken as special as her.

We took turns placing flowers on her grave and thinking thoughts of love and grief about our too-shortly lived relationship with our feathered friend.

Today is a new day and even as I write this I look out the window and watch our four children free ranging our other five chickens and playing with the neighbors soft white puppies.  Life continues all around us, even if, at time, it forces us to pause and reflect on truths that we all must wrestle with.

Bombabay, we loved you.

Searching for the “New Normal”

In various conversations I have had recently, I have begun to hear a common theme among them start to emerge.  “What is the “New Normal” going to be like?”  What I think people are trying to say is, “What are the new changes in life that we can expect to remain the same?”  It seems to me that many people want to have some sort of expectation of what will happen and hope that those expectations will not change.

As I consider this, I see a bigger reality coming into being.  To start, I believe all people, deep down, have a desire for things that are unchanging.  Things that are transcendent.  Things that are bigger than themselves that, without a doubt, will remain constant.  Some such things, like the never changing rising and setting of the sun, are essential to life itself.  Any unexpected changing of the sun’s interaction to the earth would mean the end of life on earth as we know it.

Other less tangible things, like the love freely given between a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a child, are also hoped for as constantly dependable.  In fact, as I consider all the things that are necessary for life to continue; the air we breathe, gravity, the rain, sun and moon, all of these things we can expect to remain the same.

It is good to hope for all of these to remain the same. Yet, as we see the essentials of life predictably dependable, we tend to also desire the temporal and unessential things to do the same.

In August 2018, when my family set out on our 10 month road trip, I did everything in my power to grab hold of the “new normal” of our ever-changing lives.  I would make excel spreadsheets to predict the future of the days ahead: how many miles to our next stop, how long would it take to get there, how many days we would be staying there, names of the camp sites we would be staying at, so on and so forth.  I could detail out the future for about a month at a time, until the variables became too great and I had to just wait for a few weeks, update the predictions with what actually happened, then I could begin predicting again.  This went on for sometime during the first half of our trip. But, somewhere during the second half of our trip, I suddenly realized I was no longer living in a sort of “future expectation”.  Something had somehow, almost without me knowing, changed inside me.

It has been one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned in my life-  Being able to live life in the moment.  No longer was I hoping or expecting things to align themselves in a particular sort of way; I could simply live and be.  Not only is this much less work (I still like to use Excel for many other things though) but it is much more fun.  In fact, I believe it is because I learned that lesson last year, that we have been able to, this year, see new fruits in our life because of it.

This year, our “New Normal” is whatever comes our way.  This week our “New Normal” included:

Holding our neighbor’s new puppies (Caleb prefers chickens over puppies):

Playing with our other neighbor’s dog (unplanned father of the puppies):

Building planter boxes (flats) at the wood shop:

Filling flats with seed transplants:

Planting garden beds:

Searching for (plant eating) snails:

Constructing a wheel barrow out of scrap wood:

Mowing the lawn (thank you, Grampy, for teaching Caleb how to drive):

Building a garden fence:

Building a compost pile:

Fun in the sun water fight:

Baking banana bread:

Cooking Easter breakfast and Easter dinner:

If I had not been able to learn to live life in the moment last year, I am afraid I may not be blogging this post right now.  I may very well be sitting at home in Seattle, hoping and waiting for the “New Normal” to show itself to me so that I might take hold of it and feel its illusionary seduction of security.  I thank God that we are, instead, living in the now and enjoying each unanticipated moment as it reveals itself to us.  Love you all and Happy Easter.


Pondering Questions

As I thought about how to write today’s blog post, I scrolled through our previous blog posts over the past month.  On my March 8th post, I asked some provocative questions which I believe, over the past few weeks, we have gained some clarity; one of which I wish to explore today.

First, like I said on March 8th- “Our family believes that everything happens for a reason and that our lives gain meaning and purpose as we seek God’s direction and obey His leading.”  I also asked the question, “Why do we feel compelled to be right here, right now?”  “Is there a greater purpose for us being here right now?”

As I re-examine these thoughts, given the current state of the nation, I can’t help but conclude that we have been lead by the Divine voice speaking to our hearts to be here right now.  That we have been lead here, during this season of distress, to be in a place that fosters peace and joy within us.

To begin, I am more than grateful to be living on a two-acre piece of land during this time.  This has been the first time in my life, as an adult, that I have lived in the country and on a piece of land larger than 1/6 of an acre.  Given the social distancing and sheltering in place guidelines, it has been a blessing that our family of six has the opportunity to stretch out our wings and explore life in ways we never have before;  things such as raising six chickens.  This week we collected about two dozen eggs, averaging about 3 eggs a day.

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Caleb and I also made improvements on our chicken nesting area using all reclaimed or scrap wood that we found on the property.

We have cultivated another three of our garden beds and have planted cucumbers, garlic and onions, all given to us by friends in the community.

I also created my first ever compost pile.

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We have also begun growing plants from seed including tomatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, bell peppers and watermelons.

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Secondly, though our interactions with people in the community have been greatly reduced, we have still had the privilege of some interactions.  Last weekend, we had an outdoor picnic dinner including singing with two guitars and an electric keyboard.  Later in the week, two young men from the community came to our house with a lawn mower, weed wacker, shovel, and a rake to help us with our yard.  We served them dinner outdoors on our 9ft. X 15ft. front porch.  On Wednesday, Mel had some scheduled dental work done (which was considered urgent) and our friends from the community made us dinner and delivered it to our door.  Included in the dinner was homemade chocolate donuts.

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Then one of the master gardeners in the community came to our land and helped us plant and gave us tips on how to best care for our garden (including advice on covering our garden beds with straw).

Even shopping at the Homestead Market is a social experience (especially on Friday afternoon) as I bump into friends and acquaintances there and catch up on how everyone is doing.  I have also continued to work at the woodworking shop a few days a week.  We have been working on a 3ft. X 8ft. counter top and milling wood.  I also, for the first time in my life, got to drive a skid steer.  I look forward to doing it again.

Thirdly, we are having a great time spending time with each other as a family.  We have been exploring new cooking recipes, including homemade mac and cheese.

With all the extra time to be together, we have been playing board games, popping popcorn on the stove top, playing with legos, working on a puzzle, and just being silly.

So, to get back to my main theme for this post, I believe we have been lead to this place for a reason.  I believe that we have been lead away from the big city, during this season of distress, to be in an environment that cultivates unity, peace and love.  It gives us a space and a place to practice activities that produce life.  I believe that we had been lead to home-school our children two years ago for such a time as this.  I see all the questions that I had asked last month beginning to come into focus and showing us the tangible evidence of a gracious heavenly Father.

I could, of course, focus on other things that I could become consumed by.  I could focus on how my electrical business was down 30% last month and the future for the coming week looks even less promising.  I could focus on the increasingly growing statistics given by the news stations 24 hours a day.  I could become gripped with fear and uncertainty about what is to come.  But if I did, I would miss the entire reason we have been lead to this point thus far.

The leading our family has experienced to this place and this time, I believe, is the purpose.  Not to arrive at a place that will shelter us from all trouble (such a place, I hope you all know, does not exist) but, to be engaged in the process of following the leadings that are whispered to our hearts; and to trust that the path is good and leads to abundant life, even in the face of pain and suffering.  Like the famous saying, “The road is better than the inn,” the purpose is not to arrive at a place as much as it is to be engaged in a life-giving process.  I believe, at this present moment, we are engaged in this practice.  My prayer is that we will never become comfortable in the places we find ourselves, but instead, continue to hunger and thirst for engagement with this way of being.  My prayer for everyone reading this is that you too may succeed in following the deep promptings whispered to your heart and discover places that you never dreamed you could be.

Speaking of prayer, we are entering into the Easter week and Mel and I often fast and pray during this week.  We will be praying for the health and safety of all our family, friends, and loved ones.  If you have any specific prayer requests you would like either one of us to pray for, please let us know and we will remember you this week.  We love you all.



Unplanned Blessings

Like everyone else who is uncertain about what the future holds, we have had to alter our plans at the present moment for an undetermined amount of time.  When we left Seattle in February, our plans were as follows:  We had planned on spending a couple months in Waco at the Homestead Heritage, including attending a church conference during the Easter week.  Then, we had planned on traveling to Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia to visit friends and celebrate Mel’s 40th birthday (April 23rd) with her close friend, Ruth.  Afterwards, we had talked about traveling to several states that we have not yet visited.  Finally, our goal was to make it back to Seattle in June.

Now with the recommendations against traveling, meeting in groups, and the orders to shelter in place, all our plans have evaporated.  Though this has not been distressful for us, it has required some adjustments on our part.  For starters, one of our primary goals for the first half of this trip was to visit with the Homestead community and attend classes, church group meetings, and to learn more about the homesteading lifestyle.  All classes and meetings have now been cancelled.

Secondly, living in a motor home has some great advantages with a few, small disadvantages.  The advantages are to be able to travel wherever, whenever, and GET OUT and see the country and the great outdoors.  The disadvantages are that the living space is small and the RV can feel cramped and unpleasant if stuck inside for too long.  So, given the current state of affairs, we have found ourselves suddenly embracing all the disadvantages of the RV lifestyle without the ability to balance these out with any of the advantages.

After sheltering in place for over a week in our motorhome, we realized yet another obstacle we would need to overcome.  We had converted our shower into a storage space before we set out on our big 10 month trip and have relied on the generosity of friends or public facilities to bathe ourselves.  Suddenly, we had nowhere to shower and several of us went two weeks without taking a real shower (sponge-bathing from our RV bathroom sink was as close as we got.)

In assessing our new set of givens, a friend of ours at the Homestead asked what we thought about looking at a month to month rental option that someone in their community had.  Though it was not what we had originally planned on doing (being stuck in one place and taking on additional expenses), it did seem like it might help us overcome the obstacles we faced being confined to our motorhome.  We agreed to at least look at the property for rent.

The rental is a 2 bed, 2 bath (with 2 showers!), 1,000 sq. ft. mobile home on 2 acres of land.  When looking at it, we liked that it would be a much bigger space inside, had showering facilities but, for me, I was drawn especially to the 2-acre plot of land that was available for us to use.  There are 14 garden beds and plenty of room for the kids to run around and play.  If our family would not be able to travel or meet in groups, at least we could continue to learn about homesteading with our own piece of land to tend to.

After looking at the property we held a family meeting in our RV and discussed this idea fully from all angles.  Given that we had (and still have) no idea how long we would be required to shelter in place, we began to feel that this would indeed be a positive step for us to take.  With careful, and prayerful, consideration we made the choice to move forward and rent.

Since then, we have received nothing but unexpected blessing from that decision.  The day after we committed to rent, several men from the community helped us by gathering up used furniture from various members of the community and helped moved them into our new home.

Couches, beds, tables, and chairs were brought to us and in a matter of a few hours we found ourselves standing in a fully furnished home.

Now, we have done nothing less than fully embrace the homesteading lifestyle.  Our first act in our new home (after showering!) was to bake oatmeal raisin cookies (did I mention that our RV oven is poor, at best, for cooking).

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And because the kitchen and oven space is much larger than the RV, we have been able to have more elaborate dinners including BBQ chicken and baked potatoes (pictured below), shepherd’s pie, and quesadilla burgers.

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The following day, we began cultivating the garden beds and Caleb lead the charge to begin building a fenced in area (with spare materials found in the woods) for chickens.

Two days ago (Friday), after we completed building the chicken coop, we connected with a member of the Homestead community who raises chickens, and we purchased 6 laying hens.  The kids could hardly contain their excitement.

And even more excitement came the following day after the kids found our first egg.

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We have now also removed all the grass and weeds from the 14 planter beds and, after adding some compost, we have planted 12 tomato plants in the first garden bed.


Even now, as I sit at the dinning room table writing this blog, I look out the window at our chickens scratching the lawn for bugs.  I can hardly believe everything that has happened in the last week.  We truly have been given unexpected blessing in this season.  Though we consider this new turn of events a temporary situation, we really don’t have any idea what the future holds.  In the face of much uncertainty and unknowns, we are trading the fears of tomorrow in for the blessings of today.  That really is how I believe everyone can make it through these adverse times.  Count your blessings you have today.

Wilderness Survival Camp

One of my passions is to go backpacking in the back country wilderness of the Olympic National Park and the Cascade mountain range.  In an effort to increase my abilities to survive for longer periods of time in the wild, I decided to attend a primitive survival workshop.  This workshop, hosted by Sigma 3 (https://survivalschool.us/), was a five day intensive class in the woods of the Missouri Ozark Mountains.

To get there from Waco, Texas, I had to travel eight hours by car.  I used the family mini-van and turned it into a miniature motorhome for my travels to the Ozarks.  It was complete with a fridge (cooler), dresser (traveling case), and bed (sleeping bag and mat).

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When I arrived, I set up my tent where I would sleep for a few nights before moving into a more primitive camping arrangement.

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I stayed up late that night around the fire, getting acquainted with the fifteen other people I would be spending the next week with.  In the morning we began our adventures.

Day 1: Shelters

Day one was primitive shelter day.  Contrary to what I would first have assumed, shelter is the number one survival priority, even greater than food or water.  Where as a man can survive for 3 weeks without food and 3 days without water, a man can die within 3 hours without proper shelter in extreme conditions (freezing temperatures).  Once a temporary shelter has been established, then the lesser priorities of food and water can be found.  We learned how to create several shelters out of raw wooden materials including the debris hut, lean-to shelter, tepee hut and jungle hootch.  We also learned several ways to create shelter using cord and a poncho.

Debris Hut:

Lean-to Shelter:

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Tepee Hut:

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Poncho Shelter:

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Day 2:  Water Filtration and Fire Starting

Day two we learn how to create a primitive water filtration system using sand, rocks and burnt wood (charcoal) to create a charcoal filter. (Sorry no picture).  We also learned techniques for starting fire with a feral rod.

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Day 3:  Bow Drill Fire Starting

What might be thought of as the epitome of primitive survival skills?  Day three we learned how to create fire without modern fire starting devices.  The old fashion way of a friction fire created by rubbing sticks together using a bow drill made with a boot lace.  I was one of four students who successfully started fire that day.

(After I produced an ember (bottom right picture), I added kindling to create a fire, though I did not take a picture of this).

Also, on day three, I moved out of the tent I brought with me, and for two nights, had the privilege of sleeping in the tepee hut.  Both nights we (I had a roommate named David) slept in the tepee hut we had thunderstorms throughout the night.

(Picture on the right is my roommate cooking us dinner over an open fire inside the tepee hut.

Day 4: Traps

Probably one of the funnest days (though they were all fun) we made primitive traps.  Just like I remember seeing on the cartoons when I was a child, we made a loop on the ground with a rope with a trigger that would noose anything that set off the trap.  We made dead fall traps, figure four traps, bird cage traps, and spring snare traps.

Day 5: Primitive Tools

Day five we learned how to create primitive tools such as spears, hammers, and chairs.  We also learned how to braid cord out of dried grass in order to make rope.

But, probably my favorite experience I had at camp was sleeping in the lean-to shelter on the last day of the trip.  Though wet and muddy, the rain stopped for the evening and I was able to sleep in a shelter that provided “just enough” protection from the elements.


In summery, the experience was an overwhelming success and I learned many outdoor survival skills I had never been taught before.  The class I took was the “survival standard” and I hope to someday be able to take the week long advanced class in the future.  I hope everyone is well back home. I look forward to connecting with everyone again with my next blog post.






Short and Sweet

Last year I signed up to attend a wilderness survival class in Missouri.  Due to the health concerns Mel had a year ago with her heart, I was not able to go.  The class is an 8 hour drive from Waco, so I will be attending this year starting tomorrow.  I am very excited. I am spending the entire day today preparing for my trip, which means this blog post will be short, and I will not be blogging next week.

This last week at the Homestead we have been busy with several things.  First, we had dinner at a family’s house that have a small petting zoo and the kids got to feed the 4-day old baby goats.

I have been continuing to work at the woodworking shop making custom cedar doors.

The most exciting thing that happened is that we had friends visit us at the Homestead.  Last year in our travels we met a family, the Haugens, in Florida at an RV park.  We became fast friends with them then and saw them several times on our last RV adventure, including visiting them at their home in Oklahoma last March.  We have stayed in contact with them and have spent the last 3 days with them here in Waco.

So, like I said, short and sweet.  I’ll connect back with you all in a week.  We love you all.

Week Three

Now our third full week at the Homestead, this has been our busiest week yet.  Caleb and I attended an intensive 6-day workshop, taught by the Homestead’s school of woodworking, focused on the fundamentals of handmade furniture and crafts.  We learned how to use hand tools to make wooden joints including dovetail, dado, mortise and tenon joints.

By the end of the second day we had completed a candle box;

the fourth day a wall shelf;

and the sixth day an end table.

The class was well worth the time and investment we spent and it was a joy to work alongside Caleb to learn woodworking and complete our furniture projects.

Back at our RV, the other three kids have been exploring the woods behind the RV park and created a fort to escape to during homeschooling breaks.  When not attending a community event or eating dinner at someone’s house, this is where the kids have been spending all their free time.

Speaking of dinner, we visited our good friends, the Nathan’s, twice this week for dinner, once for pizza, and once for an outdoor grill and camp fire.

Fun, Friends, Food and Learning all summarize the last three weeks here at the Heritage Homestead.

And, if I wanted, I could end this post by saying, “We are having the time of our lives and everyone is happy and healthy.”  And that would be quite true.  But in doing so I would be ignoring the burning question in our hearts – “Why are we here?”  Are we here just to eat and make friends?  We could do that in Seattle or anywhere else in the world for that matter.  “Why are we here?”  “What draws us to this place?”  We could enjoy an extended vacation anywhere we wanted in the country.  “Why do we feel compelled to be right here, right now?”  “Is there a greater purpose for us being here right now?”  That is the question that begs to be answered every time I stop and pause to reflect.

The answer to this question seems much more allusive than the cascade of thoughts and emotions that pondering on such a question invokes.  Our family believes that everything happens for a reason and that our lives gain meaning and purpose as we seek God’s direction and obey his leading.  This, then, ultimately becomes the question we must answer.  “What is God saying to us in our hearts?”  “What kind of a life is he leading us to live?”  “How can we know for sure what is God’s direction and what are our own ideas or feelings we are following?”  We do feel that there are lessons God wants to teach us and this is where He has us to learn. But is there more than just lessons to be learned?

The apostle John recorded the teachings of Jesus.  In John’s book Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepard, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  My sheep follow me because they know my voice.  They know my voice; I know them and they follow me.”  This is what we want – to know, hear and follow Jesus’s voice.  There is something about being right here, right now, that gives us the desire, more than ever, to hear that voice.  Our prayer is that we may clearly hear that voice before we ever move in any direction.

Two weeks in Waco

When we are home in Washington it is always a goal of mine to invite friends over to our house for dinner as often as we are able.  Among busy schedules and conflicting commitments this goal always seems to be difficult to fulfill.  Yet every time we share a meal with friends, either friends we are just getting to know or friends we have known for many years, we always come away feeling joyful, connected and loved.  Cultivating bonds of relationships always seem to be a profitable investment for our souls.

Since we arrived at the Homestead community in Waco two weeks ago, we have been the recipients of many invitations to share a meal with new friends.  In fact, we have shared a dinner with seven different families, each in their own homes, over the past two weeks.  These meals have been food for both our bodies and for our hearts.

Many of the evenings we have not been invited over to someone’s house, we are involved in a public community gathering.  On Wednesday and Friday evenings, the community has regular group gatherings that we have been attending.  These meetings often also involve eating a meal together.

And, of course, we celebrated Asher’s birthday as a family on the 18th and also celebrated his birthday last weekend at a group birthday party.

During the day light hours, Mel and the kids have been faithfully working on their school work and doing gardening in the community.

Also, Mel and I just finished a two day class on gardening and growing your own food this weekend.

As for myself I have been spending my days working for a man in the community who owns a wood working shop.  I have been learning how to mill, plane, cut, sand, join and glue wood together to make doors and counter tops, among other things.

I was also able to used my electrical skills to help him hook up a new piece of equipment and we cut a giant log with it.

Next week I begin a six day class on the fundamentals of woodworking with hand tools and joinery.  I am very excited.

In summary, we are eating our fill of homemade food, learning new and useful skills, bonding with kind-hearted people, and feeling our souls nourished by this entire experience.  We remain excited for the days ahead; new things to learn, new people to meet, new adventures to explore.  Our love goes out to all our family and friends back home.  We love you all and are so thankful for your desire to see God’s best for our family.

On the Road Again (Josh)

Last year our family experienced an amazing adventure as we toured the country on a 10 month and 19 day excursion.  Originally, we had planned on going back to “life as usual” once we returned.  But, much to our surprise, we realized that our ambitions to travel and experience other places and other communities in other parts of the country had not yet been exhausted.   In fact, our trip of a lifetime actually fueled a now growing desire to experience life in new ways; ways we had not been able to experience in our hometown of Seattle.  Mel and I, both born and raised in the inner suburbs of Seattle, never imagined loving a place as much as Seattle.  But as we traveled the country in 2018-2019, we started to enjoy a slower pace of life, an escape from the relentless Seattle traffic, a respite from the constant demands of an over-scheduled life, and the joys of focusing on relationships first among other things.

Along with these new experiences away from the big city, we met a community of people- the Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas.  This church community was unlike any other community we had ever experienced.  From the way they prioritize relationships, to the way they live a life of excellence and put first things first, we immediately liked them and desired to experience their way of life.  Spending several weeks with them last year, we found ourselves wanting to continue to know them more.  As we continued on with our travel in the spring of 2019 we could all feel a tugging on our heart strings to go back and see them again.

And so, 8 months after our return home, we left Seattle once again.  This time, on a shorter 4 month excursion, our itinerary has a much more intentional focus.  On Feb. 11th 2020, we pulled away from our house in Washington.  We traveled south on I-5, sleeping along the way in Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico on our focused route to Waco Texas.  Six days later we arrived at the Homestead Heritage Community.

We plan on being here in Waco for two months before we leave again to visit friends in Alabama and Tennessee.  During these two months with the community, we hope to come to know them more, to learn from them, and to experience their way of life.  A way of life that, for us, is unique and refreshing, a lifestyle that nourishes our souls.  To hear more clearly that still small voice that speaks to our hearts and calls us to live a life of purpose and meaning.  Nothing I know could be more valuable than learning to live in such a way.

I am grateful and thankful, not only for the opportunity to embark on this adventure once again, but also for every relationship I have built and cultivated over my lifetime.  I am grateful and thankful to my parents and my family, who raised me and taught me to live a life seeking meaning and purpose.  I am grateful and thankful to Mel’s family, who have tolerated me as I have taken Melodee from them on crazy adventures in far away places.  I am thankful for my friends who have supported me and encouraged me to press on to my dreams.  I am thankful to my employees who work diligently and support me while I am away.  Without all the love and support of everyone I know, I would have never developed the faith or courage to find myself in the place I am now.  I recognize all of you as contributors on this journey of seeking what is most valuable in life.  Thank you all, I look forward to sharing with you what we discover in the months to come.


Though the beginning of this blog post may not seem to have anything to do with re-entry, please trust me that it will all connect together at the end.

Over 20 years ago, I had arrived at the lowest point in the history of my life.  I was making my living as a drug dealer, my relationships with family and friends were completely ruined, I was facing criminal charges, and my ex-girlfriend was marrying another man who was to parent our child.  Then, by the grace of God, I found myself within the walls of a church building, completely surrendering the broken pieces of my life.

When I gave everything I had (which was not much) to God, he filled my heart with “a feeling of his love.”  But as time went on, the “love in my heart” began to grow distant and faint, until one day, I realized that it was gone- no where to be found.  When I asked those in the church why the feeling had left me, they told me that our faith goes through seasons and, in some seasons, God wants us to trust him even without experiencing the “feeling” we felt when we first believed.

This answer satisfied me, for a while, until, one day, I forgot about “the feeling of love” and I even forgot that I was in a season of trust.  Though I continued to seek God and attempted to be faithful in following after him, I entered a much more difficult season in my faith journey.  This season was a season of darkness, marked with deep pain, loneliness, feelings of abandonment and overwhelm.  Little did I know at the time, this season was not from the Lord, but was created by myself as I attempted to control my destiny and take back the life I had so completely surrendered when I first believed.

Last year began the start of yet another new season in my life, a season of re-entry back into the faith I once had at the beginning, a faith marked by complete surrender to God.  And, without any expectation of him doing so, God touched me in a way I haven’t experienced since those early years of my new spiritual birth (See blog posted on April 4th, 12th paragraph).  The memory of that touch has been burned into my heart and mind ever since.

It has now been over two weeks since our re-entry into “normal” life.  And though we did expect it to be an adjustment, we were in no way prepared for the struggles we have had to face as we attempt to re-connect once again with our family and friends who are closest to our hearts.  Today, we found ourselves humbled before God, praying for his grace and mercy in areas of our lives we find ourselves powerless and without control.  As I prayed for God to strengthen us in our pain and insufficiency, he blessed me with His presence once again.

To a degree I had never experienced before, I felt, in great measure, God’s spirit fill my heart, and the power of his love become real beyond all conscious understanding.  It was unbelievable yet undeniable.  Jesus himself said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  God has become our comfort today as we continue to struggle through our re-entry.  But though the physical re-entry into my “normal” life has been a greater challenge than expected, the spiritual re-entry into a life of total surrender gives us hope for the future.