When I started truly listening to the invitation to do a new thing in my life, part of what I had to work through was a battle between 2 heart desires. I happen to have children who are animal whisperers. They love animals of all kinds and Paul has done his best to create what feels like a mini-farm in our very own backyard. We have rabbits and we may or may not have been part of a secret society of HOA dwellers who had chickens. There was talk of a teacup pig for a while, but I safely navigated away from that idea. My youngest is a natural on a horse and longs to share her love of them with others. So our family had often dreamed of selling the house, buying property, and using language like “mucking the stalls” and “back-40”.

On the flip side, our hearts are strongly connected to the many individuals and families we have built relationships with in downtown Chandler through Live Love for the past 8 years. And the tug was growing stronger to dive deeper and live closer. So when I began to listen and understand the invitation to do this new thing, I had to mourn the dream of the Family Farm.

I was listening, and my heart was softening to this new adventure. Where would be the best place to buy? Which street or house caught my eye? I really wasn’t sure what it was suppose to look like. What I did know was that I wanted our home to be a refuge in the neighborhood… a safe place where people felt loved and cared for. And even more than that, I longed for it to be a beautiful oasis. I know, it’s a strange word. But you know how sometimes in a crowded city you come upon a garden or a park and it suddenly takes your breath away? Like it’s out of place and yet so perfectly placed at the same time. I pictured a Latin garden oasis in the middle of the tightly packed homes and apartments and mobile homes.

And that’s what I looked for… a house with beautiful gardens and space for people to hang out and breathe deep and…be. But I wasn’t seeing it and I wondered if maybe I needed to alter my vision.

And then one Sunday morning we are singing “Beautiful Things” by the band Gungor, and I felt so overwhelmed I almost had to sit down. I had sung the song enough times that I basically knew it. But this time, my heart was pounding and my stomach was in my throat as I listened carefully to these words:

All this earth-
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

All around-
Hope is springing up from this old ground.
Out of chaos life is being found in You.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

As I’m listening to the words as if for the first time, I have a picture in my head. It’s a memory of a large nearly 2 acre piece of dirt in downtown Chandler. Literally.

It’s dirt. That’s it.

And I’m trying to put that picture in my head next to the words I’m listening to, wondering how in the world a beautiful garden oasis could spring up from that pile of dust.

And suddenly I can see a large garden where neighbors work together to grow healthy food for their families.

And I see a beautiful garden space for families to be together and celebrate important occasions that reflect their culture.

And I saw my kids caring for animals and teaching others to do the same.

Two desires. One Vision. Same space. And my mind was blown!

So here we are moving forward with this vision to help create beautiful things out of the dust. It’s so much bigger than I could have dreamed on my own. But we are stepping in and pushing forward. We may not know yet what all the parts will look like. But one thing we do know…it’s time to buy to some dirt. We cannot do this on our own, and as scary as it always seems, it’s good for us to depend on others in the journey.

So we invite you to join us…let’s buy some dirt!

Annabelle Chinchen