By Wendi Kitsteiner
The story of how I ended up manning my farm alone, with all four of my young children in tow, is long and not really part of this story. But the short part of it was that my husband and in-laws were out of the country at my brother-in-law’s wedding, and I had been the obvious choice to stay back. Quite a few people offered to help me during that four-day weekend. But the truth was, they all had children too, and it didn’t feel helpful to add more little people to the mix.
And so I had decided to man a hundred acres by myself, with the chickens and ducks and geese and pigs and sheep dependent solely on me for their ultimate survival.
But this story is really not about the fact that I was by myself, trying to navigate a farm and four kids. It is about the Holy Spirit and that still, small voice. How we shush it regularly. And how it is there for us to listen to.
On the last day of my solo mission, I decided to take the four-wheeler to do my animal chores. I was not experienced driving it, but I was in a hurry. I also decided I didn’t want to leave my young daughters at the house by themselves, so I took them with me.
(I am sure you are cringing at this point of the story. I know. I cringe when I remember.)
I got my third-grade boys started on their school work, then put four-year-old Hannah on the four-wheeler in front of me and six-year-old Abigail behind me. We started down the old dirt path leading to the sheep pasture.
During the course of that three-minute ride, I unquestionably heard the Holy Spirit speak to me four separate times. Each time, I had a prompt, dismissive reply.
The first: Wendi, you shouldn’t have three people on a four-wheeler you barely know how to drive.
My response: I’m in a rush, and I don’t want to leave the girls home alone. It will be okay.
The second: Did you bring your phone or walkie-talkie? You really should return to the house to get them.
My response: I won’t be gone long. It will be okay.
The third: Young kids should probably wear helmets on a four-wheeler.
My response: They probably should. I will work on getting them helmets next week. It will be okay.
The fourth: Don’t take the four-wheeler down into the valley by the sheep. Stop it up at the top and walk down.
My response: I’m in a rush. I think I can handle it. I’ll be careful. It will be okay.
It was down in the valley by the ewes’ paddock that my inexperience on this exceedingly powerful machine caught up with me. Again, the details aren’t as important as the fact that due to an error on my part, this big machine was crashing and flipping and tearing down the wiring on the paddock and throwing both me and my girls onto the ground and landing directly on top of us.
I have never in my life felt like I was going to die. And while that emotion was most assuredly pulsating through my body during the eternally long seconds of the accident, the bigger message was even more clear: Your daughters might die because of your decisions.
When the slow-motion seconds of the crash ceased, I found myself pinned beneath the four-wheeler with my girls screaming mercilessly on either side of me. I could see Abigail, but I couldn’t see Hannah. I spent what felt like an eternity trying to lift the four-wheeler off of us, but it quickly became obvious that I was going to fail.
I quickly assessed our situation:
- My boys were inside the house where they couldn’t hear me. They were used to farm work taking us away from the house for long periods of time and wouldn’t register a problem for hours.
- My in-laws and husband were flying somewhere over the ocean and wouldn’t be home until that evening.
- We live in the middle of the country. No one would hear me scream.
- I didn’t have my cell-phone or walkie-talkie.
It was at that moment that I stopped struggling. The words that came out of my mouth have stuck with me to this day: God, you have to help me. I can’t do this. We need your help.
Suddenly, Abigail was saying that she thought she could slide her feet out of her boots and get free. And I could hear Hannah rustling around on the other side of the machine and coming loose. She told me she was standing up. And then, I am still not quite sure how, I was sliding out too.
As we stood there on the middle of the hillside with the sheep frolicking all around us, happy to have the run of the farm, I saw the gravity of my decisions. The four-wheeler lay completely upside down. Hannah told me that she had been lying on her belly beneath the seat that we had been sitting on. Abigail had been pinned under the handles.
We began the ten-minute walk back to the house. Neither girl appeared to have anything more than some scratches. I was pretty sure that I had broken my left hand, and my left shin was throbbing, but we were alive. During the next few hours, I’d find out that I had not broken a single bone and when Hannah started throwing up, a scan would reveal that some kidney bruising had occurred, but she was totally fine otherwise.
While I do believe God speaks more obviously on some occasions, that still, small voice is usually his method of choice. John 14:26 tells us that God sent us the Holy Spirit to “teach you all things” and to “remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to do his job? How many times do we get those checks in our spirit and simply push onward, too busy to listen?
In the six months that have transpired since that day, I have made it a point to listen to that voice whenever I hear it. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher whether it is my mommy worry that wants to go back and check that the oven is off for the fifth time, but I am praying and trying to pay attention to the Lord’s gentle nudges.
As you move about your day this week, use my story to pay attention. He is speaking. He is guiding. Don’t shush his voice.
And when something bad does happen, call out to God. After the accident, the doctor asked my little Hannah how we got free, and she said, “We were stuck. And my mommy prayed. And we got free.”
Are you listening?
Wendi Kitsteiner is a former city girl now living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee with her husband and four young children. She is passionate about the causes of infertility, adoption, and keeping it real as a mom. You can follow her at flakymn.blogspot.com or becauseofisaac.org.
Photograph © Ariana Prestes, used with permission