Moving Beyond Serendipity

Shallow men believe in luck or circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have a story to tell.

Years ago when I first met Christine I noticed that she had an article that hung on the side of her refrigerator. It was a small piece by Joanna Gaines titled, The Complexity of Living a Simple Life.

I don’t watch a lot of television. Really almost none at all at that point in my life. So I wasn’t familiar with Joanna Gaines or Magnolia. But I soon got a crash course on the subject from Christine.

It turns out I did know a bit about the Gaineses afterall. Years ago I had watched a few episodes of early seasons of Fixer Upper, but I had no idea what a powerhouse their company, Magnolia, had become.

Christine loved the style, look, feel, premise and philosophy behind Joanna and Magnolia. I could easily see why. It appealed to a want of tradition, simplicity, and values I admired as well. It became a goal for both of us to one day make a trip to visit the home of Magnolia in Waco, Texas. It made the bucket list for us both.

We’re getting pretty good at checking off bucket list items. We made it to Yosemite in 2021 for our honeymoon. That was a bucket list item. Then we made it to Joel Salatin’s Polyface farms in 2022. Another bucket list item down.

But I cannot lie… Magnolia flumoxed me.

A big part of the issue I saw was with getting there. North central Texas is a twelve hundred mile drive for us from the homestead. Of course, we could fly down, but then we’d still need to rent a car for the nearly 100+ mile drive to get to Waco. I even thought about pairing it with something nearby as a mini-family vacation. But there’s really nothing nearby that I saw as an immediate draw. Even the beaches at Galveston are over four hours away.

How would we get to Magnolia? I didn’t rightly know.

But then serendipity stepped in.

Our oldest daughter and her boyfriend had been planning for over a year to move to Florida after her college graduation. Mark, her boyfriend had some promising work prospects in the Tampa area. They had even taken a trip down there at the end of November to scout out some potential housing options in the Tampa market.

When the job offer came, however, Tampa wasn’t the location his future employer had in mind. Seeing his talents, his future company envisioned him being a success at their other location… in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. The job was his for the taking, starting in 30 days. In Texas.

Weighing their options and seeing an opportunity, they made the decision to take the offer. Fortunately Lexi is a teacher. The process of getting credentialed in Texas and finding work is really no different than that same process would have been in Florida. There’s a need for good teachers everywhere. They decided to make the big move and enter the next phase of thier adult lives together.

Moving your entire life in just under a month is no small task. I’ve done it enough with the military to know it is not an easy process completely uprooting yourself and moving to a whole new, and often unfamiliar, area. Fortunately we were there to help. And help entailed, amongst other things, driving a U-Haul to Texas.

Fort Worth, Texas.

One hundred and eleven miles from Magnolia in Waco, Texas.

That folks, is serendipity. Call it luck or just a good ol’ favorable circumstance, but we ended up in exactly the part of Texas we needed to visit Magnolia. So after driving twelve hundred miles in a U-Haul box truck we helped get them settled into their newly leased home and made the trip together to visit Magnolia.

We ate lunch at the famous Magnolia Table. The Gaines Brothers Burger was easily one of the better burgers Christine or I had ever tasted.

Then we took in all of the shops, sights, and expereinces found at the famed Magnolia Silos.

Here, in one afternoon, we managed to accomplish yet another task on our mutually shared bucket lists. It was an extraordinary experience. One that lent itself to us by way of serendipity.

But this isn’t where our story ends. We’re not talking just about serendipity, but instead moving beyond serendipity. And that is the other amazing part of last week that I want to share.

Completely independent of the job offer in Texas, a small coffeeshop named Zeteo in Conway, Arkansas, opted to run coffee and pastry give-away to promote thier expanding business around the same time that Lexi and Mark were weighing the decision to move.

As luck would have it, a homesteading couple that we had met at last year’s The Homesteading Festival, tagged us (Headwaters Homestead) in Zeteo‘s post and invited us to share the promotion. We were, of course, happy to be able to oblige. That’s what this homesteading community does, after all. We support each other and our local small businesses.

Wouldn’t you know it, we actually won the drawing for the give-away!

Any other time we would have passed on the opportunity for the coffee and pastries. You know, “Thanks for the offer but we’re hundreds of miles away and all.” Afterall we won a small business promotion in Arkansas while we live in Ohio. I suppose we could have had the promotional prizes shipped to us, but that wouldn’t have been of any benefit to the business owners of Zeteo.

But this wasn’t any other time. Here we were, just a few days out from a thousand mile drive to Texas that would take us practically right through Conway, Arkansas. We reached out to Zeteo to accept the give-away and with an offer to pick it up directly from them on our travels. It was a great opportunity for us and them to connect!

We also shared our appreciation with Jill and Nate of The Whispering Willow Farm. It was Nate who had tagged us (Headwaters Homestead) in Zeteo‘s original post. We were grateful and excited to let them know that we had, in fact, won that drawing.

Nate congratulated us. But then he did something incredible. He invited us to stop by the farm. The farm!!

This is another part of the story that probably needs a little background information before proceeding.

Early on in our relationship, albeit after discovering Christine’s love of Magnolia, I had stumbled on to a gardening video on YouTube. I really enjoyed the way that the video’s host presented informaiton and the passion she showed for growing in her gardens. With both Christine and I having some form of small gardens ourselves, I shared the link to see what she thought of the videos.

This was how we found Jessica Sowards and her farm, Roots & Refuge.

Both Christine and I were moved by Jess’ videos and philosophy. It was really the impetus for us to start pursuing the homesteading lifestyle in earnest. We were enthralled by the magic of growing something lovely. Something lovely that was whole, natural food with which to nourish ourselves and our souls. We spent hours, virtually of course, with Jess and her husband Miah as they built their small farm and shared their passion with the world.

Success found the Sowards as their channel took off and Jess published her first book, The First-Time Gardner. Then came the announcement that they were moving from their original farm in Arkansas to a new, and larger property in South Carolina.

But an even bigger surprise was when the Sowards revealed who would be taking over their original farm property. Shared in a well executed cliffhangeresque video reveal, Roots & Refuge revealed their personal friends and oftentimes video collaborators, Jill and Nate Ragan of Whispering Willow Farm as the land’s new stewards.

Just as Christine and I were fans of Roots & Refuge, so were we familiar with Jill’s many videos and classes through The Whispering Willow Farm. Homesteading is a community – really a family – and you get to know one another through mutual associations. That’s how we knew of Jill and Nate before meeting them in person at The Homesteading Festival in 2022.

And now, here we were, less than a year later, being invited to visit the grounds that inspired our homesteading dreams!

Y’all, Jill and Nate are two of the most amazing and truly genuine people you can meet. We were truly honored and blessed for them to open up their home and farm to us in the way that they did. This experience was totally unexpected, but so satisfying and inspiring that I’m actually at a loss for words in how to describe it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Within the homesteading community Christine and I have truly found our tribe. Jill and Nate’s hospitality and generosity only served to demonstrate that yet once again.

Folks, last week was an incredible experience all around. The opportunities that were presented to us, the people we connected with, and the kindnesses that we were shown aren’t just the culmination of luck and happenstance. There’s more at play here than just serendipity.

Last week we talked about inspiration and the power it can have. Our inspiration led us to our cause. And pursuit of that cause yielded an effect. That effect was the blessings of this past week.

We were moved beyond serendipity.

And that’s what we want to share with you.

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