I loved my childhood home. I didn’t figure out why until I was an adult living in one of the largest cities in the United States.
Until I was sixteen and a half, my parents, three siblings, and I lived in a house in the country. Though the house of our nearest neighbor was mere yards away from our property line, we lived in relative seclusion on almost two acres. My parents had two large garden plots, and we kids still had plenty of room to run around.
Then there was “across the road.” The property was owned by some distant farmer who never used that particular strip of land, which he allowed to grow wild. A stream, hidden by several yards of tall grass, weeds, and trees, ran parallel to the road that separated our property from it. My siblings and I spent many hours during the summer playing by the stream, which grew wider and deeper the further down the road it ran.
Our house was on top of a small hill, which was a perfect place for sledding in the winter. Two sides of our property were covered by a strip of woods.
Ignoring the annoying sound of dump trucks that seemed to drive by all day long every day of the summer, it was an idyllic place to grow up.
I spent a lot of time outdoors.
When we moved to our house in Rochester, I continued to spend a lot of time outside, though most of the time I was confined to our front porch. When I began attending college, I spent a lot of time on the Quad, a large, grassy area with a pond in the middle.
I loved being outside. Being outside brought me peace. Centered me. Helped me feel closer to God. (I only realized recently that starting in my teens, I’d begun struggling with low-level anxiety and depression, and that being out in nature cures it for me.)
Then, I had to grow up and become responsible.
By the time I was thirty, my biggest wish was not to find a loving husband, nor to be a best-selling author (though both were high on my list). My biggest wish was to be able to move out into the country, preferably on a wooded acreage, and write.
I was teaching elementary school at the time, and by the end of my first month on the job at age twenty-three, I realized it was not going to be the enjoyable joy I’d always pictured. Most subsequent years only served to confirm my initial feelings. By the time I was thirty, I was tired of the stress, the noise, the being forced to work with people I didn’t like and deal with parents.
I was especially tired of city life.
Then, there was the whole nun thing.
When you’re a girl being raised as a Catholic, which I was, becoming a nun is (or at least, used to be) a possible and (usually) acceptable “career” choice. Though until recently, I thought that having to spend so much time in daily prayer would make me want to pull out my fingernails, the idea of living in a quiet community where the members grew their own food together and worshipped together, living simply without being weighed down with all the keeping up with the Joneses mentality, appealed to me.
Even as an adult, even after turning my back on Catholicism.
Out of the rat race…
When we moved to our current home, five acres in beautiful eastern Oklahoma, the plan was to grow as much of our own food as possible and live as simply as possible. When we didn’t have to be doing chores, we could pursue our individual interests. Or spend time together having fun as a family.
But the move didn’t happen until I’d spent the previous four years desperately trying to replace my husband’s income with money from a blog. Or my MLM business. Or YouTube. Or self-publishing e-books. I became deeply entrenched in the make-money-online sphere.
Though I denied it, I’d become deeply entrenched in greed.
By the time we moved to our new rural home, I had convinced myself of two things: first, within a few years I’d be making enough money online so that we would no longer have to live on our investments. Second, God had called me to make money with YouTube and e-books, possibly even with a blog.
Another long story short: I’ve spent the past seven years living in a beautiful area of the country, all my needs (and many of my wants) provided for, stressed to the max.
I’d gone from the rat race to a demolition derby, and the things that were being demolished were my peace and joy.
I finally got it.
At the end of 2020, when everyone else was praying for a vaccine, I was praying about God’s will concerning my writing. Particularly, whether I was supposed to continue writing novels, if so, how many a year. Advertise? Write stories mainly for my own pleasure and not worry about how much money I made?
I was praying because I felt like nothing was going anywhere. I was frustrated and discouraged. Kept looking at how much money all these other authors were making, and fighting envy at every turn.
Then, 2021 started with a bang for me. That is, a bang to the ground after I tripped. At the time, my right shoulder felt sore, but I didn’t think I’d really hurt it. In February, I sustained an injury to my left shoulder, and by then my right shoulder was showing obvious symptoms of injury. So the recovery of both shoulders began at the same time.
I, who has always struggled with the concept of relaxation, was forced to relax. I could type, but not hold a phone or camcorder in front of me to make videos. That was also around the time that the Arctic front hit most of the United States, so we were all stuck inside for about two weeks straight. Thus, I was unable to record the songs I’d planned to record for a new YouTube channel or make the videos for another new channel. It was too cold for J and B to be out of the house the amount of time I needed in order to make the videos.
So I’d already developed inertia as far as moving forward with my new YouTube channels. By early March, I was seriously enjoying the lack of stress involved with trying to impress people with my great singing/comedy/opinions. I was already 90% of the way decided that I was finished with YouTube.
I had also figured out that though God has called me to write, I have leeway as far as what to do with my writing, how to bless people with my words. I’d decided that I would only write a book or series if I could have fun with it.
In other words, I was no longer going to write a novel just because I thought it would sell.
Then came A Year Of Living Prayerfully…
I reviewed the book A Year Of Living Prayerfully in this post. I was halfway through reading it when I realized that I’d been trying to quench my thirst for a deeper spiritual walk by engaging in frenetic money-making activities. I’d been seeking fulfillment in all the wrong places.
The Lord used the book in concert with all the thinking I’d been doing during my forced time of rest to show me that the life I’ve always wanted has been at my fingertips for the past seven years.
Which life is that? A quiet one. A simple one. One where I have the freedom to spend as much time in prayer and worship as I want. One where I can be outside in nature whenever I want. One where I’m free to pursue my interests and use my talents without constraint, or expectations from other people.
Life is good. Life is awesome.
I thank God for His grace and mercy every day. And I pray that many more people will come to the revelation that I have – hopefully at a younger age – so that they won’t waste time chasing after shiny objects which will one day disintegrate into worthless dust.