Last May when I flipped the four-wheeler, we began a quest to figure out how to keep the simple life we had dreamed about while still doing the things we loved on the farm. We felt the accident was a bit of a "sign" for us to slow down and get things back in perspective.
As John and I talked and prayed about what to do, we were reminded of our three goals for this farm:
- For it to be the LORD'S FARM.
- For it to provide respite and refuge for all who visited.
- For it to be a healthy place for us to raise our children and live out our lives.
About this time, my cousin, Eddie and his family came to spend a week with us while their house was undergoing renovations. They had previously been to the farm for a day visit, but otherwise, had not spent significant time there.
Eddie has an amazing wife Hannah Grace (I'm using her full name to distinguish her from my Hannah) and five beautiful children ranging from 4 to 12. I didn't know them that well before they visited, but they lived outside of Asheville (around two hours from us.) As we started talking, we realized that the Lord was laying on their heart a love for our land as well.
Eddie and Hannah Grace were both missionary kids and have a tremendous heart for missions. Hannah said something to me that I believe truly ignited a fire in my soul. She said, "I want to serve missionaries. But I don't know how I can ever do that with our tiny home in a city."
After they left from their visit, I simply felt the Lord laying HUGE things on my heart.
We had been praying since we bought this land that it would be HIS LAND. That it would bring HIM GLORY. That we would use it to show HIS love and kindness and his mercy to anyone who passed through the gates.
We also really felt like we needed another family to do this farm with us. While JB's parents are here and are AMAZING and helpful beyond words, they have five other children to visit throughout the year and sometimes the workload is just too great for the four of us. I loved having the WWOOFers, but I was also really hoping to take a break from having different people at our home non-stop.
And then the Lord sort of knocked me upside the head.
I was in the shower, praying and asking the Lord about our farm and what He wanted, and he sort of gave me the "vision" for a place for missionary, pastors, Christian leaders to come and retreat. To get away from the world and vacation with their family and recoup.
And I wondered if Eddie and Hannah could help run that part of the ministry.
I sent an email to a few people I really respected, and the response was overwhelming. I truly was hoping someone would tell me this idea was crazy. I didn't have the time to do it or the desire to do it, but God just wouldn't let it go. He wouldn't let me off the hook. JB and I kept talking, and we kept sort of waiting for a wall to go up. But the walls just kept coming down.
Now, in the midst of all this, Eddie has a job shake-up, and suddenly the doors start flying open for them to move from Asheville to our area. It was truly as if we could hear God making his plans so obvious, none of us could deny them.
Eddie and Hannah Grace have found a house about 8 minutes from us and are planning on moving here in June. Our dream is to eventually have them on the farm with us. We'd love to have some cabins around the property for people to retreat and get that RESPITE and REFUGE God has been telling me about since I bought the place. We'd also love a conference center that local pastors can come for meetings and escape their own properties.
We aren't sure what the timeline for this is, but we are seeking His will and praying like crazy. We are excited to share this adventure with another family. We think we have found the PERFECT one. Hannah and Eddie are honest and open like we are and their kids are beautiful souls that love my children greatly. We really believe this can work well. They may not stay forever. This may be the beginning of a bigger journey for them. But for now, this is the plan.
We will continue to let the Lord lead us. But I've been wanting to share this for quite some time, and I finally felt like it was the time to share. We ask for your prayers, thoughts, ideas, questions, and involvement in this ministry.
And now, some pictures. Eddie and Hannah just came to the farm for a five day visit so we could talk and brainstorm and just share some pictures:
The kids naturally split into three groups when together. Here they are:
The youngest three kiddos (who get into a lot of trouble together and get along great!) Genevieve (4), Hannah (4), and Eoin "Owen" (5)
The older girls: Kari (9), Ana (11), and Abigail (6)
And the boys: Isaac (9), Sidge (9), and Gabe (12)
Eddie's mom (My mom's sister Janet) came to the farm with this for this trip. These are the three youngest kiddos Eoin "Owen" (5), Genevieve (4), and Kari (9).
Three of the four "big kids" Ana (11), Sidge (9), and Gabe (12).
Janet took the three middle girls to play at a local museum. This is Kari, Abigail, and Ana.
Hannah Grace is one of those people who is happy doing the most normal things!!!
Eddie and the boys checking out the four-wheeler
Eddie and Hannah in front of the house they are hoping to buy.
The girls at the museum.
Kari seems to pair most with Abigail. She is such a sweetie!
Ana with Genevieve and Hannah
Love this picture of my farmer, Sidge
Hannah and me.
My Aunt Janet and me.
Aunt Janet Holding a chicken!
These two girls (along with Eoin) are going to be the three musketeers!
Janet with Hannah
And here is the letter that Hannah posted on Facebook to her friends and family sharing their change of plans!!
Dear friends and family,
Some of you know already, but many don’t, so we are writing :
We really thought we would remain here in the place God has given us the last 11 years and He even made it possible for us to expand our house last summer, so it felt even more sure that we would stay here ‘forever’. But in the last 2 months or so, in a whirlwind kind of way, the Lord has thrown open doors for us to do something completely different. It’s exciting and slightly scary and a little crazy, but it is God’s doing and so we are walking forward into it trusting Him that if He’s taking us this way, He will continue to be in the details and we have no reason to fear.
So here it is: Eddie will be teaching online with Schole Academy, a school begun by Classical Academic Press (for whom he has edited and authored for the last 10 years). We will be moving to eastern TN, about 2 hours north of where we live here near Asheville, NC, to a home about 8 minutes from Eddie’s cousins who have a farm. We will be helping on the farm as well as raising some of our own animals alongside them (organic, pasture-raised chickens and turkeys). And we’ll be homeschooling.
Every bit of life is going to be different! But we couldn’t ask for a better way to enter into this crazy, new life: We have God making it clear again and again that this is Him; we have our cousins to learn from and walk alongside with on the farm and with homeschooling; we have praying and supportive parents; we have friends and our church encouraging us and reminding us to not be afraid; the Lord continues to give us great people to help us with all the logistics; and we have a lovely family buying our house here and a lovely couple to buy a house from there!… We are not alone and we are thankful.
We will be closing on the houses the first of June and moving before the 15th. The house we are buying has great personality and we find it charming, but it’s going to need a lot of work! So we’ll see how much we can get done this summer… it also has 10 acres with both woods and open grass (and a pond!), which is crazy and exciting .
If anyone would like to come visit – you are welcome!!!! Let us know! You can come just to wander in the beauty or to play or to learn how to feed sheep & pigs and collect eggs and garden and ‘process’ chickens & turkeys or camp out or just hang out! ....
With joy and love!
hannah & family
hannah & family