New Year’s Greetings From Old Stone Well Farm

Welcome to Old Stone Well Farm, the home of the Accidental Country Pastor. I am so glad you have come to join me for a word of hope.

Old Stone Well Farm is a new worshipping community that started late in 2016 as a way to offer a time of worship for those who can’t seem to find the time for traditional church or perhaps can’t get out to attend a service or maybe, just maybe, are turned off by “church.”

Whatever the reason for coming to the “farm,” I’m excited you are a part of this community. For what matters is not that we are physically together. What matters is that our hearts are joined together in a desire to know the love of God and to live with great trust in God.

So sit back and enjoy this time of worship…and share with others and hold in your prayers God’s plans for this new community in 2017.

Blessings!

Pastor Donna 

Scripture to Reflect On:

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. Isaiah 63:7

Soaring High

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a business trip. One that involves getting on an airplane. Here I am, though, sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight.

I glance down at the bag of overpriced goodies sitting on top of my tote bag. Gummy bears, a pack of gum, a bottle of water and a magazine or two. All were my travel standbys back in my magazine days when I was jetting off to exotic places such as Africa and Thailand as well as the not so exotic such as Fayetteville and Manhattan (Kansas, that is, home of the Little Apple).

Back then I was in search of the next big story. I was in search of the next big promotion. I was in search of the next big what’s next in my life. I would board the plane and settle into my favorite seat right by a window. I would snap tightly my safety belt and do the obligatory check for the nearest emergency exit. Then I would wait. I would wait for the plane to begin its race down the runway, enjoying the sense of speed and power, until finally it lifted off high into the clouds. I could feel my hopes and dreams soaring as well.

The excitement. The anticipation. The sense that God was not done with me yet. (Oh, yeah, thrown into my tote bag were not just the overpriced goodies. My tiny tattered travel Bible came with me as well.)

Back then I was in search of the next big what next in my life. And back then I knew with God the next big what next would be a beautiful reality.

Now?

Often at times I wonder about the possibility of all things being possible. Will my fledgling someday farm actually become all that I have sketched it to be on paper? Will I run a marathon? Climb mountains? Change lives? Make a difference? Will I…

What is this doubt and questioning? I don’t know who this me is, for I’ve never wondered before about God’s ability to answer the cries and desires hidden in the deepest part of one’s heart. Before I would let my heart cry out and allow my dreams and hopes to soar with trust in God, soar just as high as the planes I travelled on soared.

Now?

Perhaps this is what growing older does to a person. I’ve heard with age comes wisdom. Is this wisdom, though, the culprit in welcoming a cynicism that turns against God’s possibilities? I want to ask wisdom, “How true of a friend are you?”

Back then I was in search of…and I found it.

Now what am I in search of? More importantly where is my faith in God that I will indeed find all my heart is crying out for?

Gummy bears, a pack of gum, a bottle of water and a magazine or two…and my tiny tattered traveled Bible—they’re all in my tote bag, again.

I’m at the airport traveling on business. It feels good to reconnect with my younger self. But it feels even better knowing soon I will be seated by the window where, after clicking on my safety belt and doing the obligatory check of the nearest emergency exits, I will look out into the clouds and allow myself to dream the impossible dreams once again. I will soar beyond all that has kept me down. I’ve done it before. Back then. And with God, I will do it again. Here and now.

My Someday Farm

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Sofie, Pastor Donna’s bumbling Bernese Mountain dog, sits on top of the hill, taking in the view of the accidental country pastor’s someday farm. 

Morning had broken. I threw on my Mucks and barn coat and, with a steaming mug of coffee in hand, went out into the crisp air to start the day with my version of a breakfast for champions—a hearty prayer walk.

Who needs Wheaties when God can nourish you?

The sun was breaking through the fog hanging low in the valley and the wind was shooing away the last remaining clouds trying their best to conceal the Green Mountains of Vermont.

I let out a sigh of contentment. This scene always brought joy to my heart, taking me back to a long-ago visit to my father’s homeland of Switzerland.

It was there a young girl with golden pigtails held her dad’s hand as they walked the hills blanketed with so many wildflowers that not a patch of green grass could be seen.

It was there a young girl would sense already in her life the awe of God’s hand at work in nature, watching as the billowy clouds wrapped around the mountains that seemed to embrace the quintessential Swiss homestead with mystery and grandeur.

It was there a young girl, full of big dreams for the tomorrows yet come, said to her father, “Someday I’m going to have a farm just like this.”

My breakfast of champions—my prayer walk—came to a stop as I noticed I was not alone. The shadow of that young girl with the golden pigtails was walking with me. I stopped and stared and heard my father’s voice as clear as if he was now standing right beside me.

“Someday you will. I’m sure of it.”

That’s what he said so long ago to that young girl with big dreams, big hopes, big prayers.

Some how. Some way. Someday….

Was now.

For some where along the way, without even realizing it, God had been answering me. I was now standing smack in the middle of my someday farm. Sure, to others all they would see were acres of nothing. But my eyes, finally opened to what was possible in the midst of impossibilities, saw it.

I could see the barns that yet stood. The coop yet built. The pond yet to be dug out of the forever wet and marshy piece of land that was such an eyesore to me. I could see the fruit trees not yet planted. The garden not yet tilled. They were all there. I finally saw a young girl’s dreams, hopes, prayers, being answered.

How many times, though, had I walked this walk and never once realized my some days were always right there waiting for me to act on?

I reached my hand towards my shadowy companion, hoping in some miraculous way I could touch not only the hand of that young girl I once knew, but reconnect with her awe in God who embraces us always with his mystery and grandeur. Perhaps if I could hold that young girl’s hand, the one with the golden pig tails, grown up fear and skepticism would give way to childlike trust and faith.

I reached but couldn’t grab. The past is elusive. So instead I reached my hand towards heaven to grab hold of the beautiful here and now God was revealing.

What are the someday prayers and the someday dreams you’ve prayed and dreamt? Could they perhaps be right in front you waiting for you to finally see?

Some how. Some way. Someday…

Is now.

For our Father’s voice whispers to the heart that dreams big, hopes big, prays big, “Someday you will. I’m sure of it.”

Columbus Day Nostalgia

I woke up feeling nostalgic about Columbus Day. Yes, of all days, Columbus Day, that peculiar holiday (I use the term “holiday” loosely) in which growing up sometimes we kids would have off from school and sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes my father would have off from work and sometimes he wouldn’t.

Time off for this day was never consistent and the lack of consistency only added to the ambiguity of what this day meant and how it was to be observed. The only sure thing was that banks and post offices were closed for a day that nowadays is also fraught with questions of political correctness. Columbus wasn’t the first to stumble upon America and what about the indigenous people stumbled upon?

I wonder. Do school children even make paper plate boats representing the three that were part of Columbus’ expedition? Let’s see, there was the Santa Maria and the Nina…what was the name of the third boat?

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A view from the porch of the new “old” house where I often drank in God’s beauty every morning.

I woke up this Columbus Day with nostalgia almost on par with that of Christmas. But I wasn’t reminiscing about paper plate boats. My mind tripped five years down memory lane to the crisp autumn morning when much to my surprise I heard the rumbling of a pick up truck coming up the dirt road that led to the house I was living in at the time. It was a colonial reproduction that I wasn’t too happy about all because the floor boards weren’t slanting with age, there were no gaps in the door and the wind couldn’t whistle through the airtight new windows. I had made a mistake in buying this new “old” house for it just didn’t have the charm of old-house problems.

Anyway, that Columbus Day I was out on the porch watching the early morning frost melt off of the tall grass in the field that was just behind the stonewall which separated the properties. I often came outside to drink my coffee but on this particular morning I was taking in something way better than caffeine. I realized I was consuming God’s beauty and I couldn’t get enough of the morning frost, the tall grass, the maple tree in the yard that was on fire with color…and now a surprise day off with my not-yet-husband who jumped out of the pick up truck announcing a very special day in store for me. We were going to look at engagement rings!

I stood on the porch feeling like a little girl on Christmas for I had given up on such a day as this. Too much heartache and too many losses had finally led me to surrender my hopes and dreams to God. In fact, just weeks before this man now standing before me came into my life I had a heart-to-heart talk with God. I realized I was really happy with my life in this rural community and that there was nothing more I wanted than to serve God as a minister. I actually had the audacity to tell God it was okay if He didn’t send me that partner in life I had been lamenting for nine years, to be exact, since the loss of my boyfriend in a jeep accident that began my journey in faith I was now on. As if God needed to be told it was okay.

I was driving home from church when I was having this talk with God. The sun was setting over the fields, casting a warm glow over the cows that were munching away on the grass. In the background was a tree line displaying the most beautiful colors of fall that I have never seen before. The trees looked almost heavenly. That’s when I started crying for the joy I was seeking in my life never left me. Joy was still alive and well in my heart. I realized that night there was no better medicine for the brokenness in life than that of God’s handiwork as seen in nature. For how could my heart be downcast when always surrounded such beauty?

God, I discovered on that isolated country road to seemingly nowhere, is always taking us somewhere. We just need to look beyond ourselves and beyond whatever circumstances in life holds us down. We need to keep our eyes focused on the goodness of God that is always right in front of us just waiting for us to finally recognize it—waiting for us to finally say to all that we have, even when it doesn’t seem enough or not what we had planned out for ourselves, “Thank you, God.”

I was definitely saying, “Thank you, God,” that Columbus Day five years ago as I jumped off the porch of a house complete with stonewalls, fields sparkling with melting morning dew and trees singing the praises of God, and into the arms of a man who wanted to spend his life with me—an accidental country pastor who had had her heart broken one too many times. And in the brilliance of a picture perfect New England fall day I saw something even more brilliant. I saw God resurrecting a prayer long thought to be dead. In the crunching of the leaves, we walked hand-in-hand to the pick up truck and down the dirt road we went. It was the best Columbus Day ever.