It’s a series about people like you and me, who decided to do something different.
They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.
They are inspiring.
They are making an impact right where they are.
They are passionate.
They are full of life.
And they are willing to share their story.
I am so excited for you to meet today’s LifeChanger, Andi Cumbo. Andi is a writer, a teacher, an editor, and a reader. Currently, she’s in the final stages of editing her book, You Will Not Be Forgotten, which tells the stories of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where she was raised and her journey in getting to know them. She is also releasing an ebook titled God’s Whisper Manifesto: The Making of a Dream tomorrow. It will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Andi is graciously giving the book away FREE to anyone who subscribes to her blog - www.andilit.com between now and the end of 2012. I’m sure you will be inspired to check out her blog and the story of God’s Whisper. I love Andi’s dream and I am excited to see how it is quickly developing. She inspires me with her courage and beautiful words. You can also follow her on Twitter.
Tammy: What prompted you to leave teaching several years ago?
Andi: About five years ago, I was teaching full-time at a community college in Maryland. I loved my colleagues, and I loved teaching – but I didn’t love the immense of amount of time it took for me to grade papers (think 5 classes of 18 students with 3-5 papers for each student) or the number of meetings I was required to attend. Some weeks, I worked well over 60 hours, and this schedule did not allow me much time to write. So I decided to quit, step back into adjunct teaching, and see if I could make a living as a writer. I haven’t regretted it once, as hard and scary as it can be.
Tammy: You currently live on a farm that you have named God’s Whisper. Had you been dreaming of a place like this for a long time?
Andi: Sometime in my mid-20s (I’m 38 now), I began imagining my life – where I lived, who was there, what I wanted the feel of my home to be - and I came up with this vision of a house where people could come and find respite from life. So many of my friends are artists or ministers of various sorts, and in these professions, they give a great deal of themselves in terms of time and energy. I imagined a place where they could come and just relax.
Over time, that vision grew to include a farm as I read people like Barbara Kingsolver and Jenna Woginrich and Wendell Berry. I wanted this place to be one where we honored the natural world of which we are a part, where we worked to be very local – growing as much food as we could, and where anyone could find the grace and strength of working and being close to a natural setting.
So yeah, the dream has been a long time in forming – almost 15 years.
Tammy: Was there a turning point that made you say “now is the time to do this?”
Andi: Two years ago, my mother died from cancer, and I ended a very toxic romantic relationship. These two devastations pretty much knocked me flat for a while. But in this time, I had the great grace of living with my father as we both worked to put our lives back together. One day, he told me that he’d like me to live with him for a year and write a book. (That book is in final edits and is entitled You Will Not Be Forgotten)
So I did . . . and then after that year was up, he looked at me and said, “My dreams can’t really come true now that your Mom is gone, so I’d like to help you live yours.” Within a few weeks, we found this farm, and together we bought it. It was my dad’s steady hand and vision that got me to this place now, where we are building God’s Whisper Farm together.
Tammy: That is such a beautiful story! Can you talk about how living your dream changed you?
Andi: The first thing that comes to mind is that I have learned to live with much less. Less entertainment, less busyness (in some ways), and less money. This is a great blessing, especially when I think of how much I still have in comparison with so many people.
Living this dream has made my heart more tender. I feel great compassion for people who feel they must work in jobs they hate. On the inverse, I have little patience for people who claim they have no options because of kids or finances or other obligations. We all need set our own priorities, so we need to own what we set.
Finally, this experience has made me a big champion of dreamers. I LOVE helping people find their dream and live into it, even in small ways. I love hearing how people are making the time and readjusting the priorities to become more fully who they were made to be. I LOVE that our dreams require different things of us – not all of us have to quit our jobs or buy farms. For some, it’s about spending more time with our kids or volunteering on Saturday mornings. Whatever it is, I’m totally behind the people who are living this way.
Tammy: What would you say to others who are afraid to live out their dream because of fear?
Andi: We are all scared when we do this, when we become more fully who we are. It takes risk, always. But we cannot live by a spirit of fear – it will destroy us. Instead, we need to find people who will link arms with us and walk forward, tiny step by tiny step, as we make our way. We need to be bold and speak about our dreams because they are gifts – gifts we need to use even when those voices say we are selfish or unworthy. Dreaming requires courage and boldness . . . and when we are courageous and bold, the rewards are deeper than we can ever imagine.
Thank you, Andi, for sharing your story with us. You are so inspiring to me and I can’t wait to visit God’s Whisper! You can also check out Andi’s Etsy shop here. She makes really cute little animals (and many other handmade items) that will make great gifts. Your purchases will help support Andi’s dream and God’s Whisper.
Have you ever visited a place like Andi’s description of God’s Whisper?