Fill Me With Wonder

All last week, Cynthia and I immersed ourselves in the gentle rhythms of St. Basil Farm, an idyllic homestead in North Carolina run by Olympia and Ephraim Rusu. Our days were very full of creating the content for our Back to Basics course, but overall, it felt like a retreat from my regular routines and responsibilities. Their home and property are a feast for the senses, profoundly beautiful in a soul-nurturing way. The best word I can think of to describe them is “wholeness,” where prayer, nature, hospitality, wellness, and creativity flow seamlessly together, creating a refreshingly simple yet abundant existence blessing everyone in its orbit with loveliness and peace.




I did a lot of observing and notetaking, pondering realistic ways to bring some of that wholeness back home with me to Indiana.  Here are three realizations that stuck with me the most:


Christ reveals Himself through nature

Watching Ephraim and Olympia work so diligently to cultivate their garden (planting, pruning, weeding, watering, harvesting, etc.), I was struck by how many spiritual lessons can be gleaned from connecting with nature. Gardening is a symbiotic relationship between God and man, in which God designs the seeds, then we prepare, weed, and water the soil, and God provides the sun and the miracle of growth itself.  To intimately participate in the wonder of God’s provision, delighting in being fed so generously, brings a sacredness and joy to eating the fruit of that labor.  Mirroring in our hearts the work of tending to a garden (cooperating with Christ to nurture our God-given gifts) produces a bounty of love and fruitfulness.


Rethinking convenience sparks new mindsets around nourishment 

I grew up in an age of convenience where TV dinners, instant potatoes, and fast-food restaurants were celebrated as liberating innovations. Perhaps my biggest misconception about adopting new homesteading-inspired habits was that they wouldn’t be realistic for my suburban lifestyle.  I’d become set in my ways and routines regarding shopping, food prep, and cooking, but working so closely with Olympia has opened my eyes to a different and far more beautiful way of sourcing and preparing meals.  Even though I don’t have my own garden, I find so much fulfillment in buying seasonal fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs, even spices and vinegar from our local farmer’s market! Picking up some intuitive cooking and preservation skills has reduced food waste in our house and given me new confidence in my kitchen, not to mention JOY from slowing down and viewing meal preparation as an art.


Embrace quality over quantity

On the homestead, there is little clutter or superfluousness. Every object has a useful purpose and happens to be lovely to look at. Mason jars filled with dried medicinal herbs line the shelves, an assortment of baskets hang on hooks, there are piles of edifying books, pretty linens cover the tables, potting supplies are arranged neatly on the screened-in porch, vases of fresh cut flowers brighten up countertops. Meals are simple but delicious: sourdough focaccia, fresh greens from the garden topped with pears, feta, and homemade dressing, roasted chicken, high-quality olive oil and balsamic, chia seed pudding with toasted coconut, berries, and pumpkin seeds, etc. - oh and copious amounts of soothing medicinal teas. Carrot tops become carrot pesto; vegetable scraps are saved for making broth. Each ingredient and possession accumulated is curated for beauty and functionality, creating a calming, inviting, and inspiring atmosphere.




All of these eye-opening insights and observations fall under the umbrella of intentionality, a more purposeful pursuit of health and wholeness (joy, creativity, simplicity, beauty, and hospitality). I’ve enjoyed making little tweaks and changes to my habits and mindsets. It’s so encouraging to discover I’m never too old or set in my ways to develop new skills! This Back to Basics course has been life-changing for me. We pray it will be edifying for you as well!



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