Thursday, September 13, 2018


Last year about this time, I had the opportunity to review the book This Life I Live by Rory Feek.

This year I was given a copy of Once Upon a Farm and was equally touched in such incredible ways.

There are so many things I love about this book.

One is how well it is written. Feek is a great writer. Truly. He writes this book in individual stories scattered throughout chapters that all seem to connect in the overlying theme but not told in sequential order.

But more than his writing, I love this book because I feel like his outlook on life is sooooo similar to mine. He touches on tough topics and does so with such an incredible love for Christ. Christ is wrapped into everything he does. He discusses his daughter's sexuality, his other daughter's lack of faith, and his own struggles and short-comings in the way Jesus would do it. I'm sure of it.

He is also living a life near us (middle Tennessee) mentioning towns I've been to, and discussing the life that we are trying to live.

There were so many fantastic passages, but I wanted to share one chapter that truly stood out to me. I could have written it. (If I could write that well.) It said so many things that are on my heart. I feel like I am Rory. And I feel like John is Joey. That is switching the sexes in the relationship, but it is true for us.

Here you go. One of the last chapters in the book:



Plant cucumbers, corn, and beans ... and pray that love grows.

If you try to look it up in the dictionary, you won't find it because lifesteading isn't actually a word. But it is a thing. Or at least it is to me. It is what I believe that we have done here on our farm, my wife, Joey, and I, over the past fifteen years. That I do naturally. Without knowing that I do it.

It is about planting yourself in the soil where you live and growing a life you can be proud of. A love that will last. And a hope that even death cannot shake. Like tending a garden filled with vegetables, it, too, requires preparing the heart's soil and planting the right seeds at the right time and watering them and keeping the weeds of this life and the bombardment of the culture from choking out what you're trying to grow.

For us, the harvest has been plentiful. Beyond our wildest imaginations. Dreams that seemed impossible in years past materialized right before out eyes.

That doesn't mean there haven't been disappointments and surprises. Some a lot of people already know about, and some I share in the pages that fill this book. But just because something different than you had imagined has grown doesn't mean that it isn't beautiful. It is.

The world around our farm is changing fast. With the Internet and technology and all that is possible today, it sometimes feels like culture is a fast-moving river that has swept us all up in it and is carrying us into the future. And though we try to swim against the current, and at times we will make some headway . . . we, like everyone else, ultimately, just have to hold on and try to stay afloat as the current takes us around life's bend and embrace what is waiting here. And though a part of me would love to, there is no way to go back to where we were before. Not really.

I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to the past. I have a 1954 Oldsmobile in the garage that I climb into and pretend as I'm pulling down the driveway that it's taking me back in time. Back to a world that was better. A life that was better. And maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. It doesn't really matter. Because we are where we are. So far not GM or Ford or NASA or Apple or anyone else has figured out how to take us back in time. So the best we can do is bring some of what seems like the good stuff from the past with us into the future. The values and principles that are timeless, even though they seem out of date to much of the culture today. Things like honor and respect and faith and hope. These things never go out of style.

Almost every week I meet a young person or family who has bought a couple of acres of land or who are hoping to. Longing for something better, more satisfying that what the world is telling us to want. And it's encouraging and inspiring to me. Some of them have visions to live off the land, the way my wife did. Some just want another option than what's available to them. Something less but more.

I can relate.

In the fall of 2013, Joey and I decided that we were going to take all of 2014 off and homestead. . . .

It's funny, though, that our plan to take a year off included homesteading. That's a word that a lot of folks aren't even familiar with. They might've heard it at some point in a junior high history class about pioneers in the bygone days who made the trek out west somewhere to claim a piece of the prairie. But it isn't something they long to do or even something they are aware is even a possibility. But we knew it was.

Joey was a homesteader at heart. Plopped straight out of a history book into modern-day society. She might not have worn the long cotton dresses and bonnets that Ma Ingalls wore from Little House on the Prairie, but she was all about it in heart. She wanted a simpler . . . harder life.

Now, those words are opposites to me. But to Joey, they complemented each other. She knew that living simpler was harder, especially today with all the modern conveniences at our fingertips. Heck, with just the slightest push of a button on our cell phones, we can order just about anything our hearts desire, and it will magically show up on our mudroom porch two days later. But the things and the life that my wife valued most weren't available from the app store. The things in life that mattered to her are tried-and-true, passed down from generation to generations. Life-tested over time and always found to have more meaning and purpose than the quick fixes found in self-help books, department store windows, or whiskey bottles. It's not always the most fun, honestly. But it is the most satisfying. At least it was for her.

This was all new to me. The old was new. I could lead her into the future when it came to building a career and sharing our story, but she led me into the past when it came to living. Together, somehow, we managed to go in both directions simultaneously without too many problems. She had her gift, and I had mine. She needed the wings that came with my gift, and I desperately needed the roots that came with hers.

And I loved it too. Homestaeading. At least the idea of it. I knew it would be good for me. Good for us.

The only blogs I read today are all about homesteading. About wonderful families who live a gazillion miles away in Oregon or Oklahoma but feel as if they're right next door, at domain names like and People from all walks of life who have made a decision to simplify their lives, move outside of the city on a few acres of land, and grow their own food and raise animals and children differently. Reading their stories and watching their life choices is so incredibly inspiring to me, just it like was to Joey.

But, in the end, we never got a chance to homestead. Not really. I wish we could've. I think it would've been great fun. Hard -- real, real hard -- but fun. And Joey would've been great at it. I'd like to think that I wouldn't been too. But I probably wouldn't have been. Because I've learned that homesteading is probably not my true gift. Lifesteading is.

Not just raising food and vegetables in the garden for our family but growing life and love and hope. . . . all on just a few acres or less. That is what I believe the new frontier is, It is what I do without even realizing I'm doing it and what I'm probably most passionate about. I can't tell other people what they need to do for a living, but I'll be the first to say that they need to be ready to give it up if it's getting in between them and the person they love. The family they've been given. If I've learning nothing else in the half century or so I've lived . . . nothing matters more than love.

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