“I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, that I might be master at last of a small house and large garden, with very moderate conveniences joined to them, and there dedicate the remainder of my life only to the culture of them and the study of nature.” 

~Abraham Cowley


Some days it seems like forever until we’ll be able to buy a place of our own again. But the other day, chalk it up to the recent fall-like mornings putting me in a good mood or four consecutive days of feeling better, I felt like that time was just around the corner. It was a weird feeling. Because I know, barring any divine intervention to the contrary, the actual amount of time between now and that possibility hasn’t changed. My perspective just shifted a little for a brief moment. I think these are the moments God gives me when I need a little encouragement to be a little more patient.

As Mr. Thistle and I lay in bed the other night I told him that I felt like I had stumbled upon something. It hit me that being “stuck” in the apartment has come at a time when I needed it the most. It looks nothing like my dream for our family and it feels like going backwards most of the time, yes. But the hard reality is that, even if I could force that dream to be a reality right at this moment, it simply would not be what is best for our family or for my own health. I’ve had such a rough pregnancy. Basic needs have been met around here but we’re all pretty much in survival mode until the endocrinologist can straighten out a thyroid issue and the cardiologist can figure out a heart issue. Most days are spent just trying to get through the day with everyone fed at regular meal times and bathed every now and then. There have been no fun school projects and truthfully, some days, no formal school. If we had a farm I would likely take any good days I had to catch up on farm chores instead of homeschool. We would have a responsibility to animals who couldn’t do for themselves. On a farm there are daily projects. You’re never “caught up” on fixing things that need repairing or maintaining what isn’t broken so that it remains in proper working order. There are no significant periods of rest in farming. An extended period of illness can force a farmer to close up shop. What we have right now is certainly not ideal but thank goodness someone had the foresight to see ahead of my own vision for my life and know that I would need a situation that forced me to rest, forced me to use my good days to dote on my children rather than other responsibilities, and forced me to see the big picture. Thank goodness I didn’t have much say in the matter. Because, even after all these years of seeing and knowing that God’s plan always comes out better than mine, I still would’ve picked my plan. It would’ve been hard not to.  And I’d probably be in a pickle right now.

So, today I’m thankful for housing situations that give me the opportunity to rest and a fresh perspective that the end of this season is only around the corner. And the ever-familiar reminder that God knows better than I do.

September’s Grocery Bill

**So, “tomorrow’s” post turned into a “one week later” post. I had some pretty awful days right after the last post went live and I barely got off the couch some days. I’m currently wearing a heart monitor but I’m on day 3 of NOT feeling terrible so keep your fingers crossed that the feel-good days keep coming!**

**Also, we’ve spent more than we had planned on restaurants and eating on-the-go but it is still drastically less than last month so we’re not beating ourselves up too much. And most of the instances were a “mommy’s too sick to cook, we didn’t buy convenience foods during our grocery trip, and daddy is working” meals. So, I’m still calling it a win so far.**

I’ll update this at the end of the month with the total amount we spent for September. But, for now I wanted to go ahead and show you what our grocery shopping has looked like so far.

I do have a few nitty gritty details to get out of the way before we get to the list though.

I sprang for the Sam’s Club Membership. It’s the closest buying club in our area that doesn’t require me to take an extra pepper spray with me and I choose life over deals on groceries. Real life, y’all.

I did a lot of research and decided that there were actually a lot of products there that could save us enough money to make it worth the investment and time. However, I did land a LivingSocial deal that allowed me to purchase the $100 membership for only $45, plus gave me a $20 gift card to use at Sam’s or Wal-Mart, along with free deli ham, hoagie rolls, hummus, and $3 off organic carrots. The $100 membership (as opposed to the regular $45 membership) rewards me with $10 cash back for every $500 I spend. On our budget we will meet that $500 every two shopping trips. It’s not much, but for what I paid for the membership it’s just money in the bank….or in this case the grocery budget. Since I got my membership for a song I won’t be including it in my grocery budget costs for the month of September. I simply categorized it as “spending money” in our You Need a Budget program.

I won’t be hitting up any stores not in my immediate area unless I am a.) in the area of the store already and know of a deal ahead of time that makes it worth my time and effort or b.) the deal is so great that it offsets the fuel costs associated with making the trip.

I am fundamentally opposed to driving all over creation with two kids in tow to save a few pennies. Not going to happen. I fully support everyone else who does it. But I know my limits. I won’t keep up with the real costs involved (time, fuel, impulse buys as a result of being in a different store for a SINGLE item — read: kids in tow) and I won’t know where my money is really going. I’ve tried multi-store deal shopping in the past and it just doesn’t work for us. So, while Aldi or Kroger might be cheaper in your case, there isn’t one close enough to me to make it worth my while. Got toilet paper super cheap at CVS? Drug stores just aren’t my jam. So here’s what I’m currently working with: Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Publix, occasionally Ingles, and online. However, my advice is that you do some research and use what is best for your situation. When we lived in Tennessee our options were very different…and limited. We were very remotely located and it was a hike to any grocery store, much less the cheapest one. If I was sticking to the same budget there I would likely utilize as much online shopping as possible. And instead of a Sam’s membership I would’ve sprung for an Amazon Prime membership. I’ve read several blogs that tell you how to save the most at Costco or Aldi. But none of that matters if it’s a 40 mile hike to the nearest one. Because, don’t forget time. Time is worth a lot, too. If I’m spending so much time trying to meal plan and clip coupons and drive around to 1,000 stores because Betty Sue “saved a fortune at the Save-a-Lot on bananas and at the CVS on deodorant” I’m more likely to burn out and hit the gas station for a snack on the way home and eat up all my savings! Plus I’ll be spending my time in places I don’t want to be and I believe I should budget my time like I budget my money. But seriously, I’m not going to make it so hard on myself that I end up giving up. I’ll do a little research but I won’t kill myself trying to save every last penny the first month. It takes practice and time and it’ll get better each time. I just know it.

We’re also adopting a “use it up” mentality with our groceries. One piece of fish left in the fridge? I’m not going to let it just sit there forever (well, I have been, but I’m not anymore). Fish tacos with more beans and veggies than fish will be on the menu one night. We’re going to get creative and stop wasting food as our first line of defense towards saving money. Whether it be planning ahead for eating leftovers or using up that last piece of fish before it gets freezer burn, we’re going to be smarter with the food we already have before going out to buy more.

What we’ve spent so far on grocery shopping in the month of September: $288.66

The shopping trips

Sam’s Club:

  • red potatoes
  • diced tomatoes
  • sweet onions
  • canola oil
  • grape juice
  • organic ketchup
  • maple syrup
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • penne
  • choc chips
  • fresh mozzarella balls
  • froot loops
  • real lemon juice
  • butter
  • black pepper
  • green grapes
  • oxtails
  • bacon
  • 2 whole chickens
  • 25 lb sugar
  • brown sugar
  • 25 lb flour
  • dishwasher tablets
  • 4 loaves white bread
  • bananas
  • shredded parmesan
  • fresh peaches
  • breakfast sausage
  • boneless skinless chicken breast

As part of our initial membership deal with Living Social we also got a few free items and discounted items at Sam’s:


  • shaved black forest deli ham
  • hummus
  • hoagie rolls


  • baby carrots (42 cents!!)


  • deodorant
  • kids toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • drinking straws
  • handsoap
  • coffee
  • hot dog buns
  • peanut butter
  • half and half
  • 4 gallons of water


  • deli croissant rolls
  • 1 gallon of water
  • potato chips
  • white chocolate chips
  • green onions
  • sour cream

I didn’t do a great job of keeping up with quantities this month. I was more concerned with the dollar amount. I’m going to try to do better with that next month so I can start to gauge how long the big items (like 25 lbs of flour) are lasting. But, you can obviously assume that the items from Sam’s Club were bulk in nature.

Pairing these items with the items we already had on hand in our pantry and freezer (items like rice or half bags of frozen vegetables….and of course that one lonesome piece of fish) we’ve eaten pretty well. There have been a few dishes that were thrown together from random pantry items that won’t make the cut again. It doesn’t matter what you call it or what’s in it, I’m just not a casserole girl. Never will be. But in general, we’ve made the most of the meals we’ve prepared. We’ve eaten up leftovers until they’re gone and I’ve replenished my freezer with lots of nutritious broth from veggie scraps, chicken carcasses, and leftover bones from stews.  I’ve skimmed the fat off of soups and stews and broths and saved it for future use. And I’ve learned to dress up items a bit more with cheaper ingredients and make the nicer ingredients last longer (i.e. a little fresh mozzarella goes a long way).

We’ve still got a little over two weeks left in the month but we’ve got a decent amount of items left in the larder and $61 left in the grocery budget.

Hopefully I won’t have many more bad days ahead of me in this pregnancy and I can keep up with all of this a little better. I’d like to keep a better list of the meals we made and the quantities purchased at the store. And maybe even take note of some things I never buy to give you an idea of the items we go without on a regular basis. I’m proud of our first few weeks though. We’ve already seen some improvement in our habits and that’s the first (and hardest in my opinion) step to getting where you want to be. I’ll update our final tally at the end of the month.






Feeding a family of four on $350 month

Mr. Thistle and I reworked our budget this month. If you follow me on instagram you might’ve seen that we were hit with an unexpected bill from my OB office. We have insurance but because of our deductible and some rather strict policies set by the OB we must pay for our delivery in full by the 24th week of pregnancy. Unfortunately my insurance company dragged their feet and the office only informed me of it in my 14th week of pregnancy. I’ll save you all the complicated legalese. We had 10 weeks to come up with $3000. That was 3 weeks ago.

So, a major budget adjustment was the obvious move. I’ve had plans to craft my way through my hoarder-worthy craft supplies in an attempt to make enough handmade goods to offset some of the costs in an instagram campaign I’m calling #projectpayforbaby or #mrsthistlecraftsadelivery. But I’ve been plagued with some heavy pregnancy-induced thyroid drama and most days I can’t even muster the strength to brush my teeth, let alone craft $3000 worth of handmade goods.


So, we sat down and reworked the budget. The problem is we already operate on a rather trim budget. We do not have satellite or cable TV (basic netflix and whatever comes through the airwaves only), a home phone (cell phones only),  or car payments (we’ve been driving clunkers for some time now… in fact, mine is my high school graduation present). We rarely shop for clothing or shoes. I have some clothes I’ve been wearing since high school. If we do, we hit Goodwill. Most of the kids’ clothes are supplied by the grandparents (praise the Lord).

To be completely candid, our expenses look like this:

  • Rent
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Cell Phone
  • Internet
  • Netflix
  • Car Insurance
  • Kid Insurance
  • Student Loans
  • Groceries
  • Fuel
  • Credit Card
  • Baby Bill

(We haven’t had a credit card in a while so this expense is new again to us. And only came about as a result of the move and some other unexpected expenses associated with that time in our lives. We were paying it off completely every month until we found out about the baby bill. We made an executive decision to pay only the minimum until the baby bill is paid in full since it is now top priority. I don’t want to have this baby in this apartment. Know what I mean?)

So, as you can see, we don’t have a lot of bills we can slash. Rent, water, and electricity are non-negotiable costs. We have a ridiculously low cell phone and internet bill since we’ve been with AT&T since the beginning of time and we’re practically grandfathered in to a crazy low rate we’ll never get anywhere else. I shopped around for cheaper car insurance when we moved so it’s as low as we can go. Netflix is crazy cheap and yes, we could save the $7.99 a month, but I think even Dave Ramsey would tell you that the $7.99 is better than going stir crazy after trying to stick it out and impulse buying an overpriced movie on iTunes that’s going to cost more in the long run. A $7.99 a month vice is a decent price for a vice if you ask me. Our kids’ insurance is crazy cheap and truly couldn’t get any cheaper. (Seeing a trend here?) We’ve negotiated all we can with our student loans. If you have student loans you understand. We’ve done what we can there and we just have to fork over the ridiculous amount every month whether we like it or not. We’re paying the minimum on the credit cards. Mr. Thistle ONLY drives to work and back. The boys and I aren’t “field tripping” right now so we’re home most of the time and the grocery store is literally seconds from our house. So we’ve slashed fuel costs as much as we can. And, the baby bill is non-negotiable. I guess we could cut that giant cost if I birthed this baby in the apartment without any help. But even a midwife would cost that much and the “cash option” at the hospital was the exact same amount. No thank you. I’ll cough up the 3k and stick with my OBs and midwives I love.

So, long story long, groceries were our only area to cut in the budget. We’ve been using You Need A Budget to track our expenses and income and we discovered that we spent about $600 on groceries last month. The Official USDA Food Plan: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels says that the cost of food for a family of four on the “thrifty” plan is $657.10 for the month. So, we were already spending $57.10 less than what the USDA estimated it should cost for us to shop “thrifty” every month.

At first glance it would look like there are no areas of the budget left to trim, even in the grocery category. But I’ve decided to try to cut the grocery budget by nearly half anyway. Mr. Thistle is on board and we’ve teamed up to try to cut the grocery budget to $350 for the month of September for a family of four.

After chatting with a friend today I’ve decided to blog our way through it. I am certain there will be a steep learning curve and we might go over budget. But every dollar we save under that $600 we spent last month is a victory in my book. And blogging about it will help me see what’s actually happening on paper and maybe it will keep me accountable. Plus it makes it more fun and I’ll feel more challenged to actually make it happen.

I feel like there are some important things to note here:

  1. We won’t be making the healthiest meals on the face of the planet. There won’t be any formal diets during this time. No Whole30, no gluten free, no sugar detoxes, no “organic” and “grass fed” only diets. I will do the best I can with what I’ve been given. But if you’re following along in the hopes that you will find a way to maintain those diets on this budget for this size family, you’ve come to the wrong place. We’ve decided to let a few things fall to the wayside in an attempt to achieve one major goal: cut costs. However, you will find a lot of meals made from scratch, because they’re cheaper. You will find that we will regularly “eat in season” because it’s cheaper. You will find that I’ve done my research on meals and ingredients that will maximize nutrition when possible with what I have at my disposal. That means, I might buy conventional meats but I’ve bought the most nutritious conventional meat I can afford for that week. I’m just not willing to die on that grass fed hill right now. Yes, I’ve seen the documentaries. Yes, they rocked me to my core. Yes, I know the real cost of food and the importance of keeping money in the community and knowing your farmer. Yes, I understand that if I don’t pay for it now in my food I will likely pay for it later in my healthcare costs. No, I cannot afford to live like that right now. This is not a lifestyle we’re adopting, y’all. This is real life for a season.
  2. There won’t be much (or any, really) couponing. One thing we already don’t do much of is purchase boxed/packaged/convenience foods. We did a little before this budget but never enough to warrant the time and energy and minimal savings that went into couponing for those items. And we’ve now vowed to try to cut out even the few convenience items we used to purchase. Much of what we buy doesn’t have a coupon associated with it. We will make those boxed items from scratch or we will do without.
  3. We will give ourselves grace. If we go over budget it’s not the end of the world. If we buy a convenience food it’s not the end of the world. The main goal is to try to stay under that previous $600 mark as much as possible.
  4. We will try, as much as possible, to avoid eating out. Sometimes it just can’t be avoided: birthdays, friends visit from out of town, etc. But eating out during the work day and taking the boys out for lunch because I haven’t planned ahead isn’t going to help us stay under budget. The costs associated with eating out are just crazy when you compare to homemade meals. Our budget will stretch much further if we eliminate eating out as much as possible. And, yes, if we do eat out it will have to come out of the grocery budget. Yikes.
  5. We took a pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory before we went to the grocery store. We will be making meals from what we already had on hand plus the groceries we bought for the month.
  6. I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not we could “feed a family of 4 on $300 a month” or “…$350 a month” and I’m just not sure we can do either. They both seem nuts. But on paper I’ve set the budget at $350 and in my head I’m trying to make it $300. We’ll see.

Tomorrow I’ll share our first major shopping trip of the month. I’ll tell you what we bought and how much we spent.


“So, what really happened with your house?”

I’ve gone back and forth over the years on whether or not I’d ever write about all the craziness that happened with our first home here on the blog. It was a hard and confusing time in our lives that I just didn’t care to share with the entire world. But, not writing about it also left a lot of gaps in our story. I’ve had many people casually ask how the farmhouse came about, if we’d sold our first home, were we buying the farmhouse or renting it, and what happened to it all when we unexpectedly left for Nashville?

Seems weird that people would so freely ask such things sometimes. But I get it. I opened up our lives to the big world of the internet and then left out a giant part of our story. Most of those questions never came from real life conversations. It’s easier to straight up ask those kind of personal things virtually. For the most part, I just never responded. There was never an easy way to answer those questions without bringing more questions. So I avoided. And it’s worked for many years.

But, pouring my heart out about my discontentment lately and expressing candidly that I wasn’t sure my farm dreams would ever come true brought about a new surge of questions and advice and well-meaning intrigued people. Avoiding their emails and questions and offers no longer feels right.

So, I’m sharing today some of the ugliness of what happened with our first home so that there’s a little more clarity on why I feel so stuck.

Mr. Thistle and I purchased our first home (a brand spanking new house) a few months before our wedding date. We were 20 and 21 years of age. Just babies, really. And we did it all on our own. We were so proud of ourselves, if we’re being honest. We were real-deal homeowners and at such a young age. It was easy to feel very accomplished and mature. But we had no idea what we had just signed our names over to.



Fast forward about 7ish or so years later (the dates have started to run together over the years as I’ve tried to block some of it out for my own sanity). We had devoted all of our free time over those years to making the place a home with landscaping and gardens and a greenhouse and raised beds. We planted trees and pulled weeds and pruned roses. It wasn’t fancy but it was ours and we put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it. When we decided we wanted to take the next step and add chickens, bees, and miniature dairy goats our first item on the list was a proper fence. Being neighborly we decided to locate the pins on the four corners of our property so we could locate the exact property line and not encroach on anyone’s property by accident when we put the fence up (spoiler alert, we put the new fence up anyway during all of this and got the goats, chickens, and bees while we waded through the ugliness….because we weren’t putting our life on hold for the ridiculousness I’m about to tell you about). But, Mr. Thistle couldn’t find the pins in the woods at the back of our property. We even dug through old documents to locate our original copy of our plat and Mr. Thistle used the GPS coordinates listed to try to locate the property line. But, every time he tried he came up with the some crazy property line that ran through our house. We knew that couldn’t be right and decided that this was a task that was clearly out of our scope. We decided to call the original surveyor to locate the pins for us and mark the property line. When the surveyors came out, they couldn’t find the pins either. For two days they looked for those pins. And, when they mapped the GPS coordinates to try to get closer to the pins they found what we had found, a property line that ran right through our house.

Umm….hold the phone. What?!

That’s right. For years, a large portion of the property we had maintained was not even ours. Not only that, but a portion of our house wasn’t even on the property we owned. Of course this was devastating. No way this could be right. A survey was done before the house was built. A building inspection had been completed. All the necessary paperwork at closing looked legit. Everyone had done what they were supposed to right? We had a closing attorney. Wouldn’t he have known to ask these things for us?

But, really, who asks when they view a home if it actually sits on the property? It’s not a common thing to ask a realtor. It’s not something that comes up regularly in closing. It’s just not heard of. You assume the house you are buying is on the property that comes with it.

But you know what they say about assuming things? Uh huh.


So, anyway, before you write me with your suggestions of what we should do or should’ve done, let me sum it up. We spent the next couple of years trying to remedy this situation. We contacted everyone from lawyers to surveyors to planning and zoning to community development to the county commissioner. And we heard the same thing over and over. They could not see a way to remedy the situation and, sadly, in the end we would be the ones who lost.

Because, here’s the thing: it wasn’t just our home. It was several in the community. And it wasn’t just our community. The builder had already been sued for everything he had for doing this in another community. And the county couldn’t give us a variance to straighten up our property without approval from the mortgage company to lose so much property (because the only way to fix it, according to them was to lose a chunk of land during the “straightening out” process). And the mortgage company had no interest in letting us have the same amount of money they had loaned us for a significantly smaller patch of land. They could simply file the lender’s title insurance if we defaulted and get their money back. Which brings us to our last option: using our title insurance. Oh, but wait. At closing we didn’t purchase additional title insurance (which is what we would’ve needed to cover a weird case like this, as regular title insurance does not), because again I say, “WHO THINKS TO ASK, should I get the additional insurance in case this house doesn’t sit on my property?”

So, we couldn’t sell our house because of encroachment issues, we couldn’t sue the builder to spend the money to fix it, even if we could sue him the problem was so big that none of the powers-that-be could figure out how to fix it and stay within their own codes and laws, the mortgage company had no interest in getting involved in any of it, and, in the meantime our neighborhood values were plummeting as people abandoned their homes. Tension increased among the homeowners who were trying to do the right thing and stick it out and do the hard work of remedying a really ugly, unfair situation. No one wanted to lose. No one could fix it. And the homeowners were left upside down in homes they would never be able to sell with property that was hard to identify as their’s or someone else’s. It was devastating.

In the meantime, we had gardens, goats, bees, and chickens that were in limbo while we tried to figure out how to remedy the ugliness of it all.


That’s where The Pope’s and the farmhouse came into play. They knew all the rotten details and after a couple of dinners we started to toss around the idea of renovating the old farmhouse that sat on their property. It was an unorthodox arrangement. And it would take all the stars aligning to make it work. We wouldn’t own it and it needed a ton of work. But we could bring our farm animals and have a real bonafide farm and live next door to friends in the country. We would have to abandon all we knew and take a giant step into uncharted territory and make some hard decisions that looked like giving up to many. And honestly, on some days it looked like defeat and nothing else.




And then we poured ourselves into the farmhouse for months. And we were one week from moving in. And then the job offer in Tennessee came. And we never got to spend a single night in the house we had worked so hard on. And one year later the job in Tennessee was no more. And now we are back in Georgia and live in an apartment only miles from the farmhouse. Someone else lives there. And The Pope’s moved to Arizona. And I pass by it just about every other week. Our first home is only a few miles further.

It’s been tricky, y’all. Tricky to navigate emotionally, spiritually. I’ve been angry, sad, hopeful, angry again. Many days I’ve felt like Lot’s wife, always looking back and being turned to a pillar of salt… bitter, bitter, salt. We did everything right and we were the ones who lost in the end. It’s easy to feel robbed, forgotten, punished. I’ve spent a lot of time looking back to try to see where we went wrong. I’ve let myself get caught up in the why.

Other times I’ve felt anticipation, like something is just around the corner. That’s how I felt with the farmhouse. And I thought it was the farmhouse that was just around the corner. Then it was the job in Tennessee. And when the rug was pulled out from under us yet again and we lost that job in Tennessee it took me longer to regain my footing. I’m still down for the count some days. Nothing that’s happened to us has been tragic, in the grand scheme of things. But it has challenged some ideas I had about what my life would be like and that’s always shocking to the system. It’s forced me to explore parts of my heart and soul that I’d rather keep tucked out of sight. It’s brought out parts of me that are ugly and raw. But I’ve learned a lot of useful things. About God, about myself, about other people that I never would’ve learned otherwise.

I’m currently reading Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. It’s been so useful for this time in my life. I’ve struggled with my own emotions over the loss of our home. It’s a thing, a thing I cannot take with me and does not matter in the grand scheme of things. People matter, God matters. But do my dreams matter, too? Why do I know what I know and still feel the way I feel about it all?

Taylor says this:

“The problems is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died….Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over gain, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”

“This book is called Learning to Walk in the Dark because I believe that is a spiritual skill some of us could use right now. As I said earlier, “darkness” packs a different punch for different people. I do not know a thing about the darkness of living with chronic illness or trying to raise a child in a refugee camp, for instance. My eyes work well enough. I have never been sexually abused. All in all, my experience of physical darkness does not extend much beyond reading a good book by bad light. If I have any expertise, it is in the realm of spiritual darkness: fear of the unknown, familiarity with divine absence, mistrust of conventional wisdom, suspicion of religious comforters, keen awareness of the limits of all language about God and at the same time shame over my inability to speak of God without a thousand qualifiers, doubt about the health of my soul, and barely suppressed contempt for those who have no such qualms. These are the areas of my proficiency. If even one of them rings a bell, it is a possible that you too could benefit from learning to walk in the dark.”

“If you are in the middle of your life, maybe some of your dreams of God have died hard under the weight of your experience. You have knocked on doors that have not opened. You have asked for bread and been given a stone. The job that once defined you has lost its meaning; the relationships that once sustained you have changed or come to their natural ends. It is time to reinvent everything from your work life to your love life to your life with God — only how are you supposed to do that exactly, and where will the wisdom come from? Not from a weekend workshop. It may be time for a walk in the dark.” 

And so we have been. We’ve been walking in the dark and learning, albeit painfully sometimes, to take what we’ve been given and see the usefulness; find the beauty. I’ve lost my sense of self in the process and have begun the rebuilding. Hopefully one day soon we will begin the literal rebuilding with hammer and nails. We cannot buy or build again through traditional means for another one year, 5 months. So for now the only work we’re doing is through prayer and devotion and self-exploration. Lots of tearing down and starting over in that kind of building. Lots of waiting and delayed gratification. Lots of patience. But it’s what we’ve been given right now.

“If you are my age, you are losing a lot more things than you once did — not just your keys and your vision, but also your landmarks and your sense of self….Learning to walk in the dark is an especially valuable skill in times like these — or maybe I should say remembering how to walk in the dark, since people of faith have deep pockets of wisdom about how to live through long nights in the wilderness…The remembering takes time, like straightening a bent leg and waiting for the feeling to return. This cannot be rushed, no matter how badly you want to get where you are going. Step 1 of learning to walk in the dark is to give up running the show. Next you sign the waiver that allows you to bump into some things that may frighten you at first. Finally you ask darkness to teach you what you need to know….Meanwhile, here is some good news you can use: even when light fades and darkness falls — as it does every single day, in every single life — God does not turn the world over to some other deity. Even when you cannot see where you are going and no one answers when you call, this is not sufficient proof that you are alone…..darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day.” 

(Barbara Brown Taylor)


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