La Fauvelière: A Dream
Not that long ago, I asked you to uphold our little family in prayer as we pursued a rather big dream. Of course, we had absolutely no idea what the outcome would be (certainly not La Favelière)! But we began searching for a property in the French countryside that could become both a home and a sacred space.
We hoped for a place in which we could hold every kind of event we could dream of – retreats, weddings, worship, space for artists, and meals around the table. We longed for a dwelling that could be one of welcome, filled with joy.
Dreaming in the Middle of Covid?
It seems an ironic kind of dream considering the ways in which the pandemic has changed our collective lives. Amid a bustling wedding season in 2019, I remember saying to my dear spouse that I was going to do everything in my power to enjoy this season of ministry. It was a strange reflection considering that I was having an incredible year, with nearly 100 weddings. I could never have predicted that I would watch my creative little ministry dwindle to nothing over the next year.
A difficult season followed – both personally and professionally. I would be less than authentic if I sugarcoated our confinements or our son’s health concerns with any words that weren’t steeped in lament. And yet, we have deep gratitude that we are alive and that we continue to weather these storms together.
You may remember that it was out of the ashes of my previous church life Ruffled By Grace was born. In my new life, I was able to combine my creativity and love for the beautiful with blessing. It has been an extra special season for me because I gained a fierce community and worked with couples who had been turned away or felt excluded from the institutional church. I never could have imagined stepping into such a role and it’s been better than I ever could have dreamed.
What About Ruffled By Grace?
In my last update, I promised you that Ruffled By Grace was not going away, but that it would grow and change with our lives. We have loved and benefitted from being in Paris these last nine years. It’s hard to believe our children have spent at least half their little lives in this tiny Parisian apartment.
I mentioned previously that these Covid times left us wondering about the sustainability of our family living in Paris. We love it here and have benefited over the 9 years we have lived here, but confinement was… HARD. Our kids are growing, and they need space to run and play and be outside while they still have a desire to do “kid things.” My husband would love to be able to work from home more (but not be crammed into the one-bedroom in our apartment).
It is now time to bid this little space in Paris, “Au revoir,” and step humbly into a new season and dream. In a way, we are returning to our roots and seeing a 20-year dream come to fruition. It makes our transition even more surreal: We bought a farm!
Because my spouse and I both grew up in a rural setting, our new home feels very much like going home. The grass, trees, and air all speak words of home to our hearts. I’ve enjoyed seeing hubby mowing the lawn on our new tractor and tending the garden waiting for each new floral surprise. I also have my parents on speed dial for all my planting and harvesting questions – while much has “come back” and comes naturally, there’s still much to remember and learn.
There was also a time when my spouse and I visited various bed and breakfasts, talked to owners, compared experiences, and dreamed of what could be. Well before we bought our first home, had children, and moved to Paris, we dreamed of hosting people, allowing space for rest, and cultivating something beautiful for others. It was a dream that seemed all but buried.
Enter La Fauvelière
Enter La Fauvelière. This 19th-century farmhouse stole our hearts from the very moment the gate opened, and we were greeted by the weeping willow trees. In addition to the gardens, orchards, greenhouse, and raised beds that make my gardener’s spirit giddy, there is much space for every kind of event that we can dream of and for our little family to breathe (figuratively and quite literally the fresh country air!).
What’s next? Well, we are packing boxes and slowly shifting to country life. There’s a steep learning curve for us and we are trying to figure out how to buy chords of wood, and gas for our stove, and remember to close the gates to keep the foxes away from the ducks. I’m weeding our flower beds, turning over earth for our vegetables, and reminding the kids to close the doors so that the cats stay inside, and the lizards stay outside!
That’s the immediate future, but afterward, we hope to lean into our dream to host “things” (think spiritual retreats, garden parties, art, weddings, etc). We would love to have space for creativity to meet hospitality. My work in weddings, styled shoots, and creative entrepreneurship will also continue. Now we will have a space to expand and welcome other creatives into an intentionally collaborative space and into the beauty of nature in our French countryside home.
We lean into a faith that is allowed to grow and change, making spiritual space for questions and protest, prayer and rest. We dream of what spiritual community can look like when it is committed to inclusivity, decolonization, and imaginative being.
I long for a space that is welcoming:
- where fierce femmes are integral to the leadership
- my LGBTQ+ siblings come and are explicitly affirmed
- where faith doesn’t come at the expense of BIPOC
- we learn from other faith traditions and religions
- where family is valued
- leadership is shared across generations
- artists are uplifted and the creativity of the Spirit leads
I’m not sure that kind of community exists in real life, but we sure would like to explore the possibility of creating the space for imaginative being and doing the work that would draw us closer to Christ and into the dreams we have listed above.
It’s A LOT
I said it before, and I will say it again: It’s a BIG dream. Phew! It’s a lot, in every sense of the word. Though it is becoming reality, it remains both beautifully exciting and terrifying.
We continue to welcome your prayers as we transition from our Parisian life and home for these last several years. We realized that our children have spent more than half of their lives in this tiny apartment. It has been a refuge and “home” for us. Transition is challenging even when it is good and right. Big things take big energy. We are praying for big energy to finish this chapter well – to say “goodbye” during these Covid times, and to begin a new chapter in a new and beautiful setting that is beckoning us to follow Spirit in ways that require us to be brave.
If you have read this far: Thank You. I appreciated how so many of you reached out to me after our last update. You prayed with us and dreamed with us. It meant so much to us. You helped give us the courage to “yes” to this next part of the journey.
OK, OK, I’ll include some photos, because, why not? I hope that someday, you’ll even come to visit us. We hope you will find a place of rest and beauty in the French countryside. We will welcome you! How? With a ringing of La Fauvelière’s brass bell, of course! And also a blessing, and a glass that we promise to pour full with your favorite beverage.
With joy and grace,
P.S. For those of you who have been asking… La Fauvelière is a quick one-hour train ride from Paris and just a little over two hours by car. It is ideally located between the Normandy coast and the Loire Valley. You can continue your adventure in the French countryside after your visit with us. There is so much to do and see – France is so much more than Paris!
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