Honestly, there is no better title I can think of. I just spent the weekend in Tennessee, and my visit was remarkable in every way, because people are remarkable in every way. This trip was rich in relationships—mostly new ones. And isn’t that a great feeling? That of a new friend?
I was invited to speak at the Homemaker Conference at Rory Feek’s farm, Hardison Mill Farm in Columbia, TN. We had been there last April and a conversation I had with Rebecca led to an invitation to come and speak on Homemaking.
It was a total joy to be asked and a great chance to actually consider why I do what I do every day. I loved the message I was able to bring, so grateful for the opportunity.
I think the best way to tell of the weekend is to show the pictures. Because in reviewing all of them, it becomes very apparent that 1) I smiled a very large smile all weekend, and 2) my phone camera is pretty terrible. But I look happy, and that’s all that needs to be captured!
Straight off the airplane, I drove to North Wind Manor, where I met Pete Peterson. I started reading the Rabbit Room blog way back when we lived in Montana and have even written a few posts for them. Pete started the Rabbit Room Press where they publish many books, and is now the editor and oversees the whole operation. He was a wealth of wisdom and so generous in sharing his time. I was grateful for every minute, and it was so fun to physically get to a community that I have been a part of online for a dozen years.
I left and then drove to the home of Nancy Campbell. Nancy is the founder of Above Rubies, a magazine my friend Shannon introduced to me years ago. The magazine is a complete encouragement to mothers, reminding them of the importance of the unseen work of making a home and raising up children in the way they should go.
She was everything I imagined her to be. Honestly, when I read what she writes or hear her interviewed, I sort of envision a swirl of Holy Spirit all around her. She’s just thick in the love of God, and our time together confirmed all of this. A swirl of the Holy Spirit, that’s Nancy.
So then I drove to Rory Feek’s farm for a dinner with everyone who was helping with the Homemaker Conference. I ended up sitting with Beth and Shawn Dougherty and I don’t know if I have ever made faster friends. They are authors of The Independent Farmstead and advocates for the small-scale, self-sufficient family farm. Also, they are just pure fun. We laughed so much and had so much in common in our approach to farming.
At the end fo the night I walked into Heritage Hall where we would hold the Homemaker Conference the next day. Doesn’t it just look lovely? I was so excited for it all to begin.
The next morning I sat at a table with the woman in the vest, below. I met her the last time I was in Tennessee, and realized when I got home that she is the YouTube video I turn to every year to remind me how to make Apple Cider Vinegar. She has a great website, and I enjoyed our time together so much!
And this really was the sweetest gift—I met all of these women at my table, and the table over. We went out for dinner to Cracker Barrel the first night, and I don’t quite know how to explain it, but even though we were in totally different stages and phases of life, our hearts were knitted together through our faith in Jesus. I am certain the Lord brought us together.
I do love myself some Cracker Barrel. I just do. Love the gift shop, love the rocking chairs, love the washboards on the walls, love the food. I’m a fan.
And the next day we were back to…
Homestead Hall. This new friend runs Dirt & Devotion, a homesteading t-shirt company she runs with her whole family. (I always talk about my future t-shirt company, so it was so fun to meet someone doing it!)
Here’s the thing I have said to everyone who has asked about the Homemaker Conference. This was a not a shiny veneer homemaking conference. The topics and conversations and talks were very raw and real. Which was so refreshing in a digital day where everything looks perfect and photoshopped. Everyone came as real people, each walking through their own particular trial. And for a work that is largely unseen, this was such a special time to gather and encourage and connect.
On Sunday night after the conference was over we had dinner with the crew on the back porch where we talked all about community, homesteading, and where the Lord is leading all of us. It was a memorable night, beautiful in all sorts of ways.
I flew back the next morning, and when I drove up the lane, Abel was standing in the upstairs window laughing and banging at the screen. When I walked through the door, he was in Elsie’s arms and he dove into my body, nuzzling his head into me as hard as he could, laughing and so glad to see me.
And there’s the rub. It was so fun to go on this trip, it was a joy to be a part of this gathering. It was a delight to speak and share and make new friends. But my domain in my home, with these little kids. Because I’m the one making their home.