I grew up on a farm. Not a working farm per say. There were no high yielding crops or livestock. We had a lot of acres in the middle of a national forest. It was beautiful with plenty of room to run and dream. We had a dog and a cat for most of my years growing up along with the occasional rabbit, horse, milk Jersey, and a handful of calves.
All I wanted to do was grow up, find a successful career in some lucrative field, making oodles of money and travel the world. I wanted (and still do) to see and experience all the cultures of our vast and diverse planet. I wanted cars and houses and vacation houses. Anything BUT a farmer’s life! No stinky animals and poop scooping for me, thank you very much!
In fact, I vividly remember playing dress up in my grandmother’s furs on a particular occasion when I was about 7 (it was a regular game we played). On this particular day, I, “Mrs. Jones,” was unveiling with dramatic flare all the beautiful cars, boats, houses and jet planes I had just acquired. This is the glamorous life I have envisioned since childhood. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous would cover my story one day.
And then I grew up.
Did I stop desiring or dreaming that childhood dream? No. Never. My dad has, to this day, affectionately called me his “city mouse.” Moving back to the family farm for a short 2 years some time ago was painful. No cell service?! A 45-minute commute?! Torture, I tell you. Sheer torture!
Then, last week everything changed. A friend who has a farm near our city, posted a Facebook request for help feeding her litter of orphaned St. Bernards. I thought it would be a fun opportunity for my kids to get some overdue puppy therapy and volunteer at the same time. As we pulled up the driveway, we noted all the animals on their farm. Cows, horses, chickens and an ornery goat all greeted us as we drove up the gravel road. My four year old daughter squealed, “Can I ride the UNICORN?!?!” Of course I told her she could… if she could find it. Haha!
When we piled out of the vehicle, we saw the puppies and their father in front of the house as well as a litter of frisky calico kittens. As we spent the evening feeding, sorting, and photographing the 10 ravenous little cuties, I felt a peace wash over me. I observed my 11 year old son who has dealt with so much trauma and heartache in his short life become caring, calm, and diligent. My son, who is normally so hyperactive and careless, was gently feeding and rocking each puppy to sleep before laying it down next to a furry sibling. Then he would gingerly repeat the process until all 10 pups laid napping in a giant ball of fluffiness.
It has taken me a full week to process the events of that evening. My son came ALIVE in caring for those animals. He and his sister have been begging for a puppy every day since. But a puppy isn’t the cure for what ails him. They have asked for a kitten, too. Although that would be far more conducive to our apartment living than a 200 pound St. Bernard, a kitten isn’t the cure either.
My son has always been what I call “an animal whisperer.” He has a gift. People confound him. He thinks he has to be the funniest, the most obnoxious or impressive person for people to like him. But when he’s around animals, he is his truest and happiest self. All the cares and frustrations of life’s unfairness disappear when he is nose to nose with something furry. He doesn’t have to perform. He doesn’t have to disguise the pain. He only has to be. He radiates compassion and genuineness when he is caring for animals. It’s a level of responsibility I have NEVER seen him exhibit towards his bedroom and household chores! Haha!
Yesterday, as I was reading Scriptures and praying for wisdom and direction to lead my children into their callings it became crystal clear: It’s not about me and my selfish desires to jet set. It’s about cultivating the two little people God has entrusted me with to their own greatness. I was born into farm life for a reason and I am coming to believe that this is why. Not for me, but for my son and daughter.
Now that I have resigned to what I believe is part of God’s plan for our family, it actually excites me to consider starting a hobby farm (mucking stalls and all). It doesn’t overwhelm or terrify me (as long as there’s cell service). There’s a peace that surpasses all understanding as I embrace this slightly different plan. It’s not even a resistant obedience. In my heart I’m not saying, “Fine, God, if I HAVE to.” Truthfully, as I saw my kids not just enjoy, but flourish in that setting, I realize that a farming life is part of our destiny. It is something I can’t outrun. And now, finally, I don’t want to.
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9