A few months ago I read Andrew Peterson’s book, Adorning the Dark. In this incredible work, Andrew describes the labor and intentionality of creativity and community. He describes his family’s decision to leave the city and move out to the country, putting down deep roots. He encourages the reader to be purposeful in settling down by saying,
“Give your house a name. Watch how it changes the way you treat it.”
Gosh, that sounded lovely. I experimented with possible names for our house, but nothing stuck. They didn’t feel authentic, and I hate the feeling of being a copycat so I ditched the idea and moved on.
Fast forward to early May. When my husband told me the house we had almost bought three years ago was up for sale again, we committed it to prayer. I asked the Lord to make it crystal clear what we were supposed to do because I wanted this to be the last time we ever move.
Just a day or two later, the kids and I were deep into another Andrew Peterson book. It is the fourth and final installment of the Wingfeather Saga, The Warden and the Wolf King. I read aloud to my kids most mornings, especially during the school year, and we have spent years working through this series, alternating with other books in between and taking our sweet time to get through them, to savor the stories that unfold with breathtaking cliffhangers on almost every page.
Midway through the book, we were introduced to a character that is untraditionally lovely. She is the queen of the imperfect, of creatures that are not considered beautiful by the rest of the world’s standards. She embraces the broken, the half-formed, the discarded and gives them a place to call home. To heal. In her care, they find acceptance and purpose. Andrew describes her beautifully, but it’s the impact of her laughter that made my heart race:
…the queen laughed–a sound like running water over river stone–and her branches shivered. Out of the corner of his eye Janner saw other flowers and plants tremble with her, and the garden seemed to lean her way as if a breeze blew toward her from every direction at once.
“Welcome,” she said in a voice so lovely that Janner’s heart skipped a beat. “I am Arundelle…”
And there, in that moment, as I read these words aloud to my kids, a lump formed in my throat and I knew. I knew God was giving me the name and the confirmation I needed to say “yes” to this move, this house, this land, this opportunity to realize a dream…
He gave me the name and it is rich with meaning.
As I look at my children, at the unique family God has given us, I am amazed. We have defied “normal” from day one. He has been preparing us for this season all of our lives. He has led us on a topsy-turvy, roundabout journey which has finally surrounded us with beauty and diversity far beyond our wildest dreams. He has taught us the value of story and the importance of listening. He has brought us to a place of realizing His call to minister to the inner city, to those who feel forgotten and have lost hope for a better future. Our eyes have been opened anew to the possibility of changing a generation by changing the life of one…one person, one family, one child at a time. So many people who struggle with the harsh realities of life just need someone to believe in them. They just need to know they matter.
Too many of God’s beloved live in dwellings where thick curtains block the sunlight. The world just outside their door is not safe, so they stay inside. They block it out. There are children who have never held a fresh-laid egg in their hands or pet the scruff between a baby goat’s ears. There are those who have never tasted the wonder of pulling a wriggling fish off the hook after an epic wrestling match to reel that sucker in. There are adults who have never sat in quiet awe as the sun sets in blazing glory because their lives are hard, chaotic, and wrought with fear. They are weary, worn down. But we can help change that. We intend to continue what the Lord has begun, to foster hope and encourage His people to rediscover their dreams. To see, really see them and know their stories…and allow their lives to merge with ours. It’s about more than living in the country and having chickens and goats, it is about cultivating important conversations that, too often, get silenced on social media. It’s about creating space for freedom and joy. For wonder and belonging. For unity.
I am so excited to see what God will do.
In our home. On our land.
At Arundelle Green.