Taking Joy for Ourselves

Taking Joy For Ourselves

[M]aking and tending good and beautiful places is not a dishonorable retreat. – Christie Purifoy

When I first began talking about this dream of a farm, I was on fire with it – the visions of gardens and animals, the quietness of the space, the rooms of the farmhouse that shifted in feel as the sun passed overhead. I had sketched a timberframe with a huge great room and a wing that was for guests and a space of my own across the house, aware I needed a retreat even in my own home.

I always knew this place would be for other people, too, but mostly, then and now, I knew it was going to be a place for me, a place for my family, a place God was giving us to cultivate and tend, to steward . . . a place for us.

But when I began sharing this vision, a well-intentioned friend told me that my dream was beautiful, was good only if it was extended to a place of service, that it would only be selfish if it was just for me. She was sharing the wisdom that so much of the Christian church that we were both brought up in shared – that good is only found in service to other people. I believed that lie for a long time.

In the past few months, though, I’ve found myself reminded that God wants to give me good things simply because God loves me. This place  – this fifteen acres of quiet – will always be for other people, too, but first and foremost, it is God’s gift for Philip, for me, for Milo. There is no selfishness there. I am not hoarding the gift or hiding away in it. I am relishing it, treasuring it, living it in as I fully am – introvert, lover of silence and solitude, nature walker, contemplator.

One of the ways I am being gentled back into this truth – this truth that does not demand I be a constant host and, thus, less than I am actually made to be – is through Christie Purifoy’s amazing book Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace.* Her words are reminding me that hospitality does not have to be about hosting, about having people in this space all the time. Her words are reminding me that hospitality can be about beauty for the sake of itself and beauty shown and shared but not always physically.

This morning, I am going to order pounds of sunflower seed so that when the warmth comes, Philip, Milo, and I can plant them in a wide swath of golden up by the road. It is our hope that everyone who drives by will take joy in that ephemeral beauty as they drive by.

We will host our annual writer’s retreat in June and open the bunk room for guests come April. And in late April, we’ll invite everyone down for our annual yard sale and look forward to greeting our neighbors, especially those of you who have always waned to come down the lane but just needed a reason. On May 18th, Christie Purifoy and Jason Harrod will be here for a night of music and story, and you are all invited. Plus, of course, there’s lots of opportunities to sit at the dining room table over tea. (Get the details on all our events here.)

But mostly, we’ll be here – the three of us – watching the chickens get closer and closer to trying out their swing, tending the tiny shoots of dill in the basement, and walking the land with our hound dogs. We’ll be taking joy in the gift we’ve been given, my friends. We’ll be taking joy.

As you show up to your joy, your work will come to you.

Don’t be scared that Joy is selfish. She has gifts for the whole world in her pockets.— Laura Jean Truman (@LauraJeanTruman) January 24, 2019

Every day, I try to post a picture – or three – from the farm over on Instagram. A little way to share the beauty we’re cultivating here. We’d love to have you join us there.

Introverts and Hospitality

Introverts and HospitalityOne of my dreams for this farm is that it will become a place where people come to rest – for a few days, for a month, for an afternoon.  I long to look out the farmhouse windows and see people fishing in the pond, a group wandering the trail at the edge of the pasture, someone harvesting cut flowers, a huddle of children feeding grapes to the goat through the gate.  Just the image of that nurtures my soul.

But you heard the part about how I’m seeing this all from the farmhouse, right?  That’s an important part, too, because Philip and I are introverts.  Too much interaction makes us unhealthy and tired, and it sometimes makes me unkind.

So while we want to see this space filled with human and animal life, we are having to plan carefully for how we set boundaries that are healthy for ourselves.  Here are a few ideas we’ve had.

  • We will hang a sign on our front doors that says, “We’re so glad you’re here. Knock so we can say Hi,” on one side.  The other side will say, “We’re so glad you’re here. We’re taking a quiet day as a family, so please leave us a note and enjoy the farm.:
  • We will install a gentle gate for the days when we just need the farm to ourselves or want to spend time with our guests who are staying on the farm.  A small rope with a sign that says, “We are so glad you came by.  We’re spending the day just with ourselves on the farm, but please come back soon. We’d love to see you.”
  • We’ll put a sign in the bunkroom that guides people to the things they’ll need here and around the county, and we’ll encourage them to text us or call if they need us but to take this space as their own retreat, to schedule – or not – as they wish.
  • We will have certain areas on our farm that are not open for guests unless we are with them – Philip’s workshop, our bedroom, the pastures.  We’ll keep these spaces closed off to protect our guests, our animals, and our privacy.

We so want to share the bounty that we have been gifted, and yet we also need to honor the people we were created to be by setting some boundaries that keep us healthy and whole.

So if you stop by and there’s a rope across the lane, please know that we love you and that we’re caring for ourselves so we can continue to care for this land, these animals, and this place for us all. And then come again soon.  We’ll wave when you drive up.

What signage, guidance, tools would help you feel welcome on the farm if we, as the caretakers, were not physically present as you visited?