There it is...written on that old calendar in small, penciled
letters …”change in plans”…as if I thought I might someday forget.
As if I could.
It’s been seventeen years since that fateful day in my
parents’ Florida room. Seventeen years
since our world was rocked by a seismic shift that no earthquake or tsunami
could ever match. Seventeen years since everything changed---forever.
Seventeen years ago today, on a Thursday afternoon in February, the
Boss and I had just returned from the last meeting with our builder before the construction phase was to begin. We had left
our long-time home in another county to make the Valley our home and build a
house on my parents’ farm. At my
father’s invitation, I might add. He had
picked the spot, consulted the county and bought us a mailbox. It seemed that our dream of becoming
debt-free (we sold our house, one car and a number of possessions) and living
and working on a multi-generational farming operation was about to come
true. We had made the move, we were working/helping on the farm. Life was good. Our young daughters were so excited about
this new adventure.
That was until he called us.
We were summoned to the upstairs, where my father began to
rail against all our hopes and dreams and everything we stood for in a
horrible, violent fit of anger the likes of which we had never experienced. His
face was a most awful shade of red, his dark eyebrows beetled together, hatred
emanated from his eyes. His voice and hands shook with barely suppressed rage. He
didn’t want us to live on his
and he especially didn’t want to have to “look at you all the time”. When
pressed for a reason (Had we behaved in some inappropriate way? Could we work
this out?) he had no answer. We had done nothing wrong, he had simply “changed”
his mind. He was unexpectedly mean and hateful. He wanted us to leave…find our
own place…basically just go away
. (I’ll spare you the rest of the details.) It was a
devastating experience and words fail to convey the pain we felt in our
We couldn’t believe our ears.
But the tirade had ended. We were dismissed…and things would never be
the same. We picked up what was left of our dignity, our dashed hopes and
dreams and went back to our basement apartment. What to do? What to tell the children? Where to go?
I have never seen the Boss look quite like that, so broken
and forlorn. (and I hope I never do again)
For myself, I could only shake my head and wonder….WHY didn’t I see that
coming? My relationship with my parents had always
been a difficult one, but for a number of years things had been calm and fairly
pleasant and I (we) assumed that the patterns of the past were just that…the
That day my heart shattered into a million, tiny shards that
would never, ever become whole once more.
So, what do you do when your heart and dreams are
broken? When you can’t “go home”
again? When you feel lost and alone,
scared and overwhelmed…what can you do?
That’s when you take a leap.
That’s when you take an enormous leap of faith…knowing that any
level of success will simply be a miracle.
Everything we had ever thought we believed about God’s
amazing provision was about to be tested in a most extraordinary way.
Retirement and 401-k liquidated, equity from our old home withdrawn, deep
breath taken and we were ready. We took
a plunge into the great unknown. I have never been so scared in all my
life. In retrospect, it was an amazing
faith-building time…and we met some extraordinary people who had lasting impact
on our lives…and we were witness to miracles first-hand.
At the time, it was simply terrifying.
We put on a brave front for the girls (or at least we like
to think we did), making it sound like an agreement between all the grown-ups,
(hoping to keep some stability in their young lives) we packed them into the
truck and headed out to find a new home. Which, I might add, was much easier said
After a few false starts, we met a gracious real estate man
who printed out a list of things in our price range. (it wasn’t a very long
list) That same real estate man has my
undying gratitude for the time he devoted to us, all the while knowing that his work for our
small purchase wouldn’t yield much of a commission at all. But, he was there for us in our hour of need
and all we can do is thank him for that. We appreciate you, Bill!
After 40 days in the wilderness (really, that was all…but,
it seemed SO much longer) we closed on an empty piece of land on a hill
overlooking Mbrook. Empty! No house, no barn…nothing. (our first choice was
definitely NOT new construction…however, in the long run it was the best) But,
the same builder would build the same house as we had planned earlier for the
same price…and he promised me he would hurry.
With the Boss joining the work crew, the construction phase began. Despite my serious misgivings, the house was
completed in record time. 120 days! (actually it may have been 121...)
The builder has since passed on…never knowing exactly what
came of the time he devoted to our project…but, Rupert, I am truly grateful.
|doesn't look like a barn, does it?|
With the house completed, a pile of lumber destined to
become the barn and just $5 in the bank, we had our new home (and we were debt-free) in a rather
Homestead Hill Farm
Why am I telling you this story today?
For that matter, why
am I telling it at all? Why, when we shied away from sharing the horrible truth
with anyone, would I finally record the sad, sorted tale today?
Because it’s Thankful Thursday…and unbelievably, I can
honestly say that I am thankful for that awful Thursday afternoon seventeen years ago today. Really!
You see, while I might never figure out why it happened (and
believe me, I’ve really tried all these years)...
While I still wonder what, if
anything, I could have done to prevent or change the painful situation, it
It took that awful
moment to get us to the here and now.
This amazing life (our family, our friends, the farm and business) that we love so much is a direct result of that change in plans (kick in the teeth, body-blow, heartbreak...call it what you will) that February day from long ago.
…and whether anyone believes the rather unbelievable story
(honestly, we still don’t believe it) that really doesn’t matter either.
It doesn’t even matter that our hearts and dreams were
shattered and the damage never repaired. We found a new way and made a new life.
By the Grace of God, a whole lot of hard work, serious perseverance and the influence of some great folks along the way, we can
…we are THANKFUL for (and no, we didn’t forget) the Change