As a child, most of my days were spent on a farm where my mother grew up and where my grandparents live. It was where I got on the school bus, got off the school bus, spent many weekends, and most of my summers. There were always vegetables in the garden, cows in the field, fish in the pond, and some delicious meals with the matching smells coming from the kitchen. My mouth was always filled with my favorite farm fresh treats such as cucumber sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper, fried okra or squash, a slice of hot and fresh baked bread with a slap of butter on top, or Corn Fest which is a family tradition where we eat a fresh harvest of corn. The doors were often left open and during pleasant days, the breeze would flow through, carrying the sound of wind chimes while you were lying on the couch. Most days, though, you’d hear my grandmother hollering at us grandkids to close the door because the AC was running and it was hotter than Hades outside. Plus, the flies got in if we let the screen door swing.
For many years this farm was the place where I wanted to be, the place that felt sewn into me, like it was a part of me and I was a part of it. When I turned seventeen, my father had built my mother a beautiful home on the farm, and we moved in. This farm had finally become my home and I was surrounded by people and things I loved both spiritually and naturally. I spent about eight years living there, becoming intertwined with the land, and growing there.
It’s safe to say at this point that I’m a total country girl and that I love the farm. It pretty much explains my love for organic living, some old fashioned ethics and morals, flowy skirts, bonnets, blooms, strong women, wagons, sun hats, greenery, and all things pioneer. (I love other eras too, but my learnings of pioneers/Westward Expansion is where it began..) I hope to turn my parent’s home into a seasonal bed and breakfast one day, or even renew the entire property into a faith based retreat or even start a worship school for young adults. Something like that.
The description above of my life at the farm is not a result of rose-colored glasses, idealism, religious beliefs, being sheltered as a kid, or even the harboring of “republican ideals”. The simple truth is that God made a beautiful creation when He made Earth and all it’s inhabitants, and He gave me the ability to see the beauty in it. I’m not sugar coating the memories listed above, I’m writing them as though I’m right there, because I remember them so vividly. I have joy. So much joy. Even as a kid.
In June of 2016, I started my own journey as a pioneer of sorts when I moved with my new husband to a little riverside town, four hours away from the farm. It had come time for me to harvest all that I had learned from the farm and carry it with me. I’ll be honest, I was sad to be leaving my home, those I loved, my comfort zone, my familiar places, and my safe place. But as a husband cleaves to his wife, I chose to cleave to my husband. If I were to leave the farm for and with anyone, it’s the hubs. On the flip-side, I wasn’t crazy about this little town that shares a name with that little crab from that one movie about a mermaid. Now-a-days I like it a bit more every day. It may be safe to say I like it a lot now.
To give you a wider scope, I moved to a new town, with my new husband with whom I had not lived with before marriage(In fact, the entirety of our relationship was long-distance), to a town filled with retired folks, and on top of that, the Lord implored me to take a direction away from public education. Towards being self employed and owning my own business. I felt so much change.
Here in this little riverside town, I locked up many parts of myself, put it on reserve, per se, since “we were going to move back soon”. (That’s what I kept saying…) With all the change, I felt a bit emotional and denied this place as my new home. I didn’t place priority on knowing the city, making friends, or praying for the place, because I was going to leave eventually. So, why waste my time? My heart isn’t here, it’s in Saint Mary’s Glen.
But then, one day, while having a conversation with God, something changed. A new year was coming and it marked almost six months of living in this new place. I had no friends. No idea exactly what kind of work I was supposed to be doing (not the Lord’s fault…I didn’t pray about it..) No spiritual establishment in the place, and no desire for things to change. But God gave me my word of the year while I stored myself away.
Plant. Water. Grow. Weed. Cut away. Expand. Stretch. Dig. Invest. Work.
All these words were listed, one after the other as though the Lord gave me options, choices, descriptive details so I had no excuses. It was time to step out and dig my hands into the dirt. Time to plant. He said, “Kailee, Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.'” (Dt 1:8)
So I prayed more about what I should pursue. The first thing was my relationship with the Lord. I want to always go to Him first, rely on him wholly, and talk to him like I breathe. Up next was my own business. Photography had been in my sights for more than five years, but it was never the right timing to pursue it. Until now. So the hard, enduring path of becoming self employed was opened up to me. Next, I was to invest in people, in friends. So I now have precious friends who play in a band with us, along with their two teenage daughters whom I have been commanded to invest in, plant in. Then there was the city. Joshua and I have our vision for the mission in this city, which is “to reinstate praise and worship”. So I set out to know the roads, the areas, and the demographics of the city. Then, there was my marriage. I prayed that the needs of my husband would always be clear to me so that I can be attentive and supportive. We are not perfect and our joy does not come from one another. It comes from the Lord. So many marriages end up in ashes these days as a result of being rooted in futile, selfish, idealistic, ungodly things. As time moves on, it becomes clearer and more apparent. I pray my husband and I will cling to each other and to the Lord.
Every day, I began to see how I walk in a garden with seasons, different types of soils, and a selection of so many seeds. The vision that had been cultivated in me by life on the farm was rooted in me, and it shapes the way I see the world. At every turn there is opportunity for life, a chance to grow, and hope of redemption and restoration.
And so I grow in the Lord. I stretch wide and push my roots deep in Him. I drink in His goodness and mercy, and let it restore me. My life is blooming in Him, and begins to take a shape similar to one of my favorite hymns, and I can’t help but sing along….
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
-Charles A. Miles