Monday, July 26, 2010

For the Love of Men and Land

In 2008, we left our little Victorian house with neighbors 20 feet away on two sides. We opted for a change of scenery and a steadier, more rooted, pace to life. We felt so blessed to find a home in a nice neighborhood that already had a finished basement apartment. Mortgage eater built in--awesome!

My baby was 7 months old, and I was just picking myself up from some annoying and dangerous hormonal fluctuations. I prayed that the environs would lift my heart and bring me back to myself.

What started as 4 baby chicks and an experiment at gathering eggs has blossomed, if not exploded. A handful of hens soon became 15. A year later some goats were added to the mix. The next season a couple of pigs as well as some raised vegetable beds.

The Mister of the House has made it all happen! I am forever at the crossroads of decision and what-iffing. Because our baby goats are over the land limit, they are not a permanent fixture. My heart smiled after the birth of the baby goats, when The Mister exclaimed: I feel like I should keep growing my herd!

Indeed our heart and our dreams are growing bigger than our single acre.

For our family, and our childhood love of nature that was lost with careers and bill-paying, we have grown so much by just having a little piece of our own dirt. It has seemed like a dream come true in so many ways.

And then I remembered something from long ago. Something I had yearned for to the depths of my soul, and had somehow forgotten. How is that possible?

Enter Mrs. Olsen into Florida jungles. It's 1997. I'm single right? Still in the middle of my schooling. No money. Wearing a dress for a year and a half straight while inviting sweaty southerners to come check out the message.

It was there as a missionary, where I was only known as "Sister Anderson", that I discovered the power of prayer. The focus of my new prayers? Maybe I sensed my student life would never catch up to real estate growth? Or perhaps it was me knocking on door after door of cramped, shut-up, rot inside with a television trailer parks that I desperately wanted to have my own chance someday with my own piece of dirt, and with a river if at all possible. So my prayer was this: Dear Heavenly Father, Please help me have some land someday. I will try to be a good steward. I love you. Amen.

Every day we'd hit the streets, preach the message, pray for the people, for our prophet, and for the spirit...and then I would add my petition. Oh and if it's not too much to ask, some land would be nice someday.

The vision was clear even as a newlywed I think. But we were still students, still scraping by and fixing up. I knew I had some time to wait. Then came babies, job changes, more school, and making ends meet, and the cloud of busy living pulled me from my once-clear-vision.

So when we moved to our little acre a couple years back, I was so caught up in getting rental income, recovering from my hormones, and wishing I knew how to garden that I had forgotten my years long petition to the Lord. It wasn't until just this year that I remembered that girl in the dress, winding through trailer parks and thinking how dirt could keep her grounded in the grown-up world. I wondered how I had forgotten that I had prayed for this! And with my remembering, came some thanking.

I forgot but you remembered. You knew I needed this, and brought opportunities to make it happen! You remembered even when I forgot! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

So with all this reminiscing of mission life, and remembering of former prayers, I was delighted with this recent quote from the LDS General Conference. Elder Dieter F. Uchdorf stated:

Every one of us is called to wait in our own way. We wait for
answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may
appear so right and so good to us that we can't possibly imagine
why Heavenly Father would delay the answer....We must learn that
in the Lord's plan, our understanding comes at the price of
patience....Often the deep valley of our present will be understood
only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience

That quote seemed so perfect for me at this time, especially with my burst of remembrance that brought me to my knees. But with that remembrance came a recollection of another sister missionary, indeed my very own mission companion who served with me for 4 months in Brunswick, Georgia.

Like me, Elizabeth wore a dress and became a sister in the sweaty south. Back home was Mitch, who sent packages on a weekly basis, and who cheerfully and faithfully waited until Elizabeth came home. Anyone who knew Elizabeth, knew Mitch. I served with Elizabeth while she was diagnosed with lupus. I knew that diagnosis would forever change her life, and wondered if the cheesy and cheerful mission packages would diminish.

They didn't.

Elizabeth and Mitch got married after she got home. They lived in the desert where the warmth kept her in better health. He took care of her and loved her.

And just last week he suffered a surprise attack of the heart with a clogged artery. He was gone hours after finishing a hike with his kids. He leaves behind Elizabeth 38 weeks pregnant with child number four!

I think of me and my old mission companion, one praying for a dream so long she forgets to notice its fulfillment, and the other biding her time as a nun just long enough until she can blaze into a dreamy love story with a great man.

The quote I found so perfect for my waiting for the land, takes on a new meaning when I think of the new life, the unanswered questions, for my dear friend who will have a lifetime of waiting to know the purpose of this detour.


Lay awake at night counting the little things I'm grateful for and chalking this one up to one of The Mysteries of God


Wade and Marilyn said...

That was absolutely beautiful. It made me cry. I'm glad your family is finding fulfillment in getting back to nature.

LGH said...

Amber, this was just incredibly beautiful and poignant. You are a gifted writer, there is no doubt about that. What an inspiring post.

Candice said...

First, I, too seem to forget so many prayers I prayed that were answered. Heavenly Father is so kind and patient.

Second, I mourn the loss of such a good man. I cannot my life for granted.

paula said...

I love the way you see things. Really.

I feel so bad for your friend. What a sad situation for her and her kids.

Jake said...

You nailed it on the head there. Thanks for posting your thoughts. I recently went through the same sort of realization that this life I'm living right now is pretty much a fulfillment of a lot of prayer and work.

Also, so sad for Elizabeth. Sending off a lot of prayers for her and her family right now.

dreamofjean said...

Amber that was very touching, and just what I needed to hear today. I'm glad your dreams are coming true, and that your hormones are doing better (I've been there so I know what it's like!!).
Thanks for the reminder that all good things come to us in God's time. We just need to keep looking up, and trusting in Him, and showing our gratitude to Him who blesses us with all good things.

Lael said...

Thanks for sharing! That was beautiful.

jennaloha said...

Great post, Amber. I looked at your friends' blog and am sorry for the loss- Phoenix needs more people of such calibre.

Lee Family said...

I had no idea that you had these desires on your mission. There's no doubt about it, your Heavenly Father luvs ya.

Lee Family said...

and I love the collage of pictures. you have a creative eye sissy.

Anonymous said...

You made me cry, even before I read about your sister friend. Thanks for the reminder.