Swiss chard with bright, red stems and dark green/purple leaves. - Farm Dreaming

Farm Dreams

Once, my step-mom Adrienne asked me, “What would your ideal day look like, when you think of the farm and writing?”

I paused a minute and said, “At least half time on the farming. Maybe 60/40 farm to computer.”

I hadn’t really thought about that before, but once I said it, I felt that vibration of truth first spoken, and I knew I needed to lean into that dream.

When I think about getting to spend 60 percent of my time working on farm things, I imagine:

  • A field of lavender in front of the barn.
  • Swaths of cut flowers intermixed with the lavender.
  • A beautiful, tended vegetable garden with flowers blooming by the cucumbers and beans.
  • A farmyard that is largely self-sustaining in wildflower meadows and meditations gardens with a patch of lawn for Milo to play and big beds of flowers and shrubs to give color and cover to our bird friends.
  • A vivacious farm stand with eggs, flowers, and vegetables for sale at the price our neighbors can pay, and a Little Free Library that gives free books away by the hundreds each year.

When I pair that vibrating glory of a dream with the other dream of my life – to write books and read books for living (something I already do) – I get such a sense of wonder and hope about the future that I can hardly wait.

To get us further toward that goal, I’m devoting a great deal of time and energy to writing books and promoting those books. Right now, my income from editing and coaching is what supports the farm, so if we want to expand what we do, my income needs to expand. (Philip’s salary covers our day-to-day living expenses and keeps Milo in teethers, which are SO necessary right now.) So I’m going to write more books more quickly – while doing my very best to not sacrifice quality or truth in the pages.

Cover of Silence at the Lock shows a young, white woman standing in front of a canal lock in spring.

My newest book, Silence at the Lock, comes out on April 2. It’s the final book in my Steele Secrets trilogy and tells the story of Mary Steele, a young, white woman, who meets the ghost of Sarah, a young, black woman who was murdered when trying to stop her mother’s lynching. It’s a book of magical realism and history, a book about justice and truth-telling and community.

Anyone who pre-orders the book gets some great bonuses, including:

  • a free copy of the first book in the series, Steele Secrets.
  • a chance to win one of three signed sets of the whole series.
  • an original illustration by Corey Egbert that was inspired by my book.

If you or someone you love might enjoy the book, I’d be so grateful for your pre-order. You can get all the information about the book, see a sneak peek of Corey’s image, and find links to pre-order here.

Dreams, friends, they are powerful things. I’ve followed them for years now, and the life I live is a result of obedience to the gift of the dream. I’m dreaming hard again, and I’m so grateful that you have travelled with me all these days of dreaming.

Bearing One Another's Burdens

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

In college, my friend Sarah and I took a class on the Inklings, that wondrous group of English writers that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton. (Those men really liked their initials!) We were assigned (noticed I didn’t say I always read) Sir Gibbie, Gaudy Night, That Hideous Strength, The Lord of the Rings and more.

(In a rather comical underestimation of the time involved, Sarah and I actually tried to listen to the BBC recording of Tolkien’s trilogy. Several hours into book one, we abandoned that plan.)

While I loved the books, especially Lewis’s work, it was a lesson from one of the other books – which one I can’t remember now – that has stuck with me. It was the idea that we are to help bear one another’s burdens. In that class, Sarah and I made a commitment to do that for each other, and now more than 20 years later, we still do that. *

She came, went to the hospital for my procedure, and watched episode on episode of Lost with me after I miscarried. Talk about bearing one another’s burdens.

**

Last night, another friend picked up some of my burden when she paid the licensing fee for the use of Rhiannon Giddens‘ lyrics in my new novel, Silence at the Lock. The cost was beyond my means to cover, and she offered – as she has with so many other things in our family’s life – to help us pay the expense. I am overcome with gratitude to her.

**

I could keep listing the ways people have helped me bear my burdens – the friend I’ve never met who gifted us the jogging stroller they didn’t need, the kind souls who leave books in our Little Free Library, the neighbors who give us plants and overpay for eggs and vegetables, the grandparents who watch Milo often so this mother can work. The list is truly endless.

So today, my hope and prayer is that I have been at least one-tenth as good at helping other people carry their burdens as they have been at helping me carry mine. If I have done that, then I have done well.

May you each have all the help you need to foist the burdens of your days, and if I can be a part of that help, please, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

*Also, yes, this idea is in the Christian Bible, but I often grasp things more thoroughly in story than I do in sermons. You?

Pick Up Some Books for the Holidays

Books for the Holidays
My book haul from the library this week.

My favorite gift of all time is a book. Any book – new or used, hardcover or soft, adult or YA or children’s. I just love books.

For many years, when times were tight, I sold my books to help pay bills – visiting used book stores with crates full of titles or posting them to eBay’s book sales’ page.  The irony, of course, was that with every visit to sell, I also found more books to buy.  I cut into my profits quite considerably.

Or consider the times I’ve worked at bookstores – some portion of almost every paycheck went right back into the store’s coffers because how could I resist buying when I spent so much time with those paper beauties.

Perhaps this is why I get such joy from running our own Little Free Library. I get to see new books and give them away.  At the holidays, when stress is often high and money often tight, it feels especially important to have books available for anyone who wants them.

Last week, a friend gave us two big boxes of children’s books. I will admit that I did snag a few for our own little one, but most of them are in the Little Free Library for you to take.  Someone also brought us boxes of thrillers and mysteries a few weeks back, and most of those are in near-perfect condition.  We have lots of novels and books on faith (even a few Bibles if you know someone who needs one). And my mother-in-law just donated some amazing and barely used cookbooks for those of you who read those tomes for pleasure.

So if you need a lightly-used holiday gift to help you make ends meet or you’d just like to cuddle up in these dark weeks of the year with a great story yourself, do stop by and get a few titles.  Our books are always free – although we are grateful when people make a donation to help us keep the stand going – and we are THRILLED to share them with our community.

Happy Reading!

Big Happenings Round These Parts This Weekend

Big Doings Round These Parts This Weekend

Big Happenings Round These Parts This Weekend
Mosey knows how to enjoy a relaxing weekend. Come watch him in action.

We are in full-on preparation mode for our Writers’ Retreat this weekend (We still have a few spaces available if you want to join us), so I just wanted to remind you about some great stuff going on this weekend here and in our area.

Tonight – Reading with Kelly Chripczuk

Join us tonight (Thursday) at 7pm in the farmhouse (4975 Orange Rd in Radiant) to hear Kelly Chripczuk read from her delightful and gently challenging book, Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk, and PoultryWe’ll pay our chickens a visit, enjoy some cookies and tea, and appreciate Kelly’s wit and wisdom.  The event is free and open to everyone. 

Saturday – Madison County Friends of the Library Book Sale

If you love books as much as I do, be sure to visit our local library’s book sale on Saturday from 8am-1pm. I can attest to the fact that they have GREAT titles at great prices.

Saturday – An Evening with Novelist Billy Coffey

Then, come hear the lyrical stories of a Virginia storyteller as Billy Coffey shares from his novels, which are set in our very own Blue Ridge Mountain. Billy is from Stuart’s Draft, and so he knows our part of the world.  We’ll get things started with Billy at 7pm, but feel free to come a little early and explore the farm.  The event is free and open to everyone. 

As always, the farm stand is open throughout the weekend with a few special hours on Sunday for our Writers’ Retreat guests.  This week, a kind neighbor donated a wonderful collection of children’s books to the Little Free Library, so come browse. Then, pick up some of the green beans I harvested just this morning.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

 

The Farm on the News

God's Whisper Farm on the News
The farm was showing off her best this morning.

Earlier this week, we were honored to have Good Morning Charlottesville’s reporter Tyler Hawn visit the farm to talk with us about what we do here, how we are investing in our local community, and our quest to win $20,000 from the Beekman 1802 Boys.

We talked about the garden, got Xander crowing on film, and even fed the goats. . . . Carmen was especially glad of the extra helping of hay (as if she needs it.)

We are so grateful to have the support of our local community, the people who we seek to serve and who have invested so deeply in our work here.

You can check out the story here – and be sure to click the “Related Link” that says “Farm Contest” on the upper, right-hand corner of the page to vote for us.

Buy Our, Um, Stuff and Support the Farm

Yard Sale at God's Whisper Farm
Mosey Really Helps You Come . . . with Treats

Y’all, on Saturday (June 18), we are having a BIG yard sale on the farm. It’s so big that my friend Sarah – Yard Sale Queen (it’s her official title) – is coming down to help us get it set up for your buying pleasure.

We have household goods, electronics, a lawn mower or two (all working). We have bakeware and kitchen gadgets, and decorative items.  We may even have some old tools and a few clothes.

Plus, my mama-in-law is cleaning out her house, and you know that woman doesn’t have no junk.

AND the farm stand will be open, so you can pick up free books from the Little Free Library and get your hands on our first cucumbers of the season.

Finally, we’ll have a table with some handmade crafts available for slightly more than the yard sale goodies. And we’ll be selling God’s Whisper Farm mugs and my books.

So come on out, spend a few dollars, enjoy a cup of coffee or iced tea on us, visit the goats, and help us raise a little money to paint all the farm buildings.  Doors open at 7am and we’ll be here until the afternoon.

4975 Orange Road in Radiant, Virginia.  Look for the sign at the end of the lane then hustle on down to the barn.

Our Little Free Library

The Little Free Library at God's Whisper FarmWe are SO excited about our Little Free Library in the Farm Stand.  Here, we offer lots of books for people to take, and give people a place to donate books that they have read or want to rehome.

Dad has built us these WONDERFUL bookshelves, and as you can see, we have LOTS of room for books you want to share with other folks.  We are happy to take any books from your collections, and we are eager for you to stop by and claim a few titles of your own.

Right now, we have a good section of books on Christian living, some great classics, an array of romance novels, some literary fiction, and a whole lot more.

If you are an author, we GLADLY accept copies of your books and will share them online as well as display them in the library with pride.

Stop by and donate a book or two and borrow to your heart’s content. 

To stay up to date on all our goings on about this place, please join our weekly update email. We share our observations from farm life, talk about upcoming events, and keep you posted on what’s available for sale in our Farm Stand.  Just follow this link to join us – http://eepurl.com/bagtuT – and get a FREE copy of my book God’s Whisper Manifesto.