Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday: The Change in Plans

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 farm 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 shattered hearts.

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?  How? Why?

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 past.

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. 

A HUGE 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 than done.

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 unexpected place.

 Homestead Hill Farm had begun.

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 doesn’t matter. 

It took that awful moment to get us to the here and now.  

The present.

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, 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 finally say…

…we are THANKFUL for (and no, we didn’t forget) the Change in Plans.


  1. Mercy! Thanks for sharing...what an inspiration to keep on having Faith! So thankful it has worked out so well for you all! I love reading your blog each day and enjoy your pictures! Thanks again for sharing such a painful story to try and encourage others!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It means the world to me to know that folks read and appreciate what I write. Have a great day!

  2. This could not have been posted at a better time (for me at least). I'm in the process of applying for jobs and trying to determine where to go from here and to read how well y'all triumphed in a situation that is much more dire than my current one is just awesome. You are fantastic! *hugs*

    1. Thanks, Mandy! ...and *hugs* back at ya.
      You'll be in my prayers as you take your own "leap of faith".

  3. Thank you for taking effort to write this down. I found it very encouraging! Was wondering if you have a relationship with your father now?

    1. We tried...but, my father has since passed on.

  4. This Barbara is such an uplifting story. I am so pleased you found the courage to write it down for us to read. It is such an inspiring read - your children must be so proud of you.

  5. Oh, thank you, thank you, Pat!
    If it were not for my children and my husband, I don't think I would have had the strength and courage that it took to live that story. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that we were that brave, tenacious...or maybe just make it through the hard times to the present.

  6. What a courageous, honest and moving story, Barbara- thank you for sharing. You have much to be proud of with your beautiful family and lovely farm. You and Tom are truly inspiring.

  7. Thank you, Deirdre! I (we) can honestly's all good. Things really do have a way of working out.

  8. Thank you for sharing this personal and truly inspiring story. What a wonderful new perspective, and respect, I have for your already beautiful homestead, and you both.

    1. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write such a kind comment! You have no idea how much it means to me.
      Best to you.