“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
Someone posted on my Facebook wall that they always dreamed of having a homestead. They love watching baby lambs do kick-a-dee in the pasture. They always wanted to garden and raise their own food. They always wanted to make their own soap or weave their own baskets. They yearn for a more self-reliant, simpler lifestyle. But they have to live “where God put them.” They have no choice.
Whoa! They almost sucked me in. I remember yearning for those same things as a teenager. Hey, unless you are in prison-for-life, I don’t buy the idea that you just have to accept things the way they are. It ain’t so. It may be that you choose not to live your dream. It may be that you choose something else, instead of your dream. It may be that you really don’t want the self-reliant life, but you like to watch it – like watching Little House on the Prairie on TV. But it isn’t true that you are stuck where you are, and you can do nothing to change it. That fatalistic, trapped feeling isn’t coming from God. Check out last week’s Homestead Abundance post and you’ll see where this fatalism is coming from.
While you might feel all those things that I mentioned, especially on a bad day, there is still hope. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” it says in my favorite book. You and I need to work at keeping hope alive if we want to find homestead abundance. If we let hope die, we can make ourselves sick. Health depends on hope. Let me tell you a very personal story, that I have rarely shared. There was a time in my life when everything was black, and I only had the faintest hope that my life would ever change. People looking in at my life from the outside would have written me off as “she’ll never amount to anything.” In fact some of those closest to me did.
When I first saw the flicker of homestead hope in my life
When I first hoped for a self-reliant, simple, homestead life I was 13 years old. I lived in an old house in South Vancouver, the eldest child of an alcoholic mother. Her live-in boyfriend snuck into my bedroom at night, with a flashlight, drunk. Mom passed out on the couch. I was afraid to fall asleep at night, to relax my vigilance. My room had no door and no closet to hide in.
We were so poor that I went to school without breakfast. On most days I bought a 30 cent ½ cup serving of yogourt for lunch, in the high school cafeteria, using my bus money. That meant I walked the 3 miles to and from school. Sometimes on the way to school I’d get dizzy walking up the hill, the world went black, and I’d bend over till I could see again. On the way home, I ran all the way, so I wouldn’t miss Little House on the Prairie reruns at 4pm. The house was empty. My Mom met her live-in at the pub after work. Dinner was whatever I could find – usually white bread and margarine with jam or peanut butter. Sometimes, if they were drinking at home, there’d be an actual dinner with meat. On those days my mother phoned at 4pm to say start cooking the dinner. Heaven help me if I got distracted by Little House on the Prairie and forgot to add the potatoes at the right time. Usually, though, they didn’t come home after work.
About a year later, my living situation changed. My mother had a son with the live-in boyfriend and I was the live-in babysitter, not only for her, but for her drinking buddies. Some school nights I babysat 5 kids under the age of two all night. Sometimes they’d pay me $2 for a nights’ work. Minimum wage was $2.50 an hour. My mom didn’t come home until 5 minutes before I had to run to school in the morning. Then I’d miss my first class, unless she drove me, still drunk. She’d spent the night at her drinking buddies’ house, while I took care of all the kids.
I determined then that I would get out of poverty. I would get my university degree and become a professional writer. University was the only road out of the hell-hole, that I could see. At that point I was a C student, I was failing French 8 and I hated PE. But I was going to learn how to be self-reliant so that I would have a better life. It was that or suicide. 13 year olds tend to see things in black and white.
In my final year of high school, my mother hired a hit man to kill me. In 1976, 3 times, attempts were made on my life. M family wasn’t on my team. God was on my side, though. God put a dream in my heart to go to university, to get a degree, and to choose a different lifestyle than my parents. At my high school graduation, I was the only person who believed in my dream – well God and I. I had no other advocate.
Consider, where did this dream come from?
If there’s a dream in your heart, for a different life, consider that dream may be planted there by God. Maybe he didn’t put you where you are, expecting you to just get used to pain, regret, and sorrow. But maybe He has a plan to partner with you to fulfill your dreams – the ones He planted there.
Consider that the yearning for something different in your life, might not be just your yearning “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” That’s from an ancient lifestyle strategy book. It tells me that some of the desires, goals, and dreams in my mind didn’t originate with me. That’s good news. It means I might get some help to make it happen.
The day I walked out of my childhood home – 6 weeks before my high school graduation – I started on the complicated path to Joybilee Farm. My first full time job started in May 1976 – 6 weeks before my grad, working for the Royal Bank of Canada as a teller-in-training. My high school principal gave me permission to take the job and agreed to graduate me early. I graduated on the Principal’s Honour Roll. I found a room for rent in a tenement in Vancouver, with a shared bathroom. That year I earned $6,500 in wages. I ate scrambled eggs and toast every night. . I bought lunch at the Royal Bank Cafeteria, in downtown Vancouver, for $2.50 on work days. It was a feast with vegetables, meat or cheese, and dessert.
Working at the bank was the first step to saving enough money to go for my first year of university. The tuition and room & board was $3,000, for the first year, and I paid cash. It took me 6 years to get a 4 year degree – 4 of those years I worked full time and took night classes toward my degree. By the time I graduated I had 4 years of work experience at TV Guide Magazine and my degree. My peers that went the traditional route had only 2 years work experience, if they could find a job at graduation. The economy wasn’t wonderful in the early 1980s. The journey taught me how to work toward a goal, how to let go of the things that didn’t help me reach the goal, and how money was a tool, not the goal.
Your journey to Homestead Abundance may not follow the expectations of others
The journey to fulfilling your dream may be complicated. It may not follow the expectations of other people. You may need to make an investment of time or money to get there. As long as you are breathing and still moving, you can take those steps to follow the dream. I don’t believe that you are stuck where you find yourself. Please keep hope alive. Did you know that Colonel Saunders was over 65 when he built his Kentucky Fried Chicken business in 1952? He was living on a retirement pension of $100 a month and he couldn’t see a way to survive, so he launched his restaurant franchise and became a millionaire.
Sometimes knowing what the next step is can be confusing. You might need a roadmap or a mentor to show you what your next steps are on the journey. Today, just know that you aren’t stuck. You can choose your next step and the step after that. Please don’t give up on your dream. The world needs your gifts. The world needs you and it needs your dream.