In Escrow

Do you ever feel like God keeps us from seeing more than one step ahead because He knows we would just run off without Him? My last post was about waiting. We’ve been doing a lot of that, but it was all for a very good reason. God needed time to calm me down and point me in the right direction.

We were looking at the wrong land for one thing. Now, we are just days away from closing escrow on 40 acres with a house already built. We also learned about some amazing new building materials. I am so thankful that we did not buy land or build a house without waiting on the Lord. He has proven worthy of our trust over and over.

This is a very exciting season for us. I can’t wait to share more with you as the Lord leads us forward in His time and for His glory.

Escrow – it got me thinking. The property is reserved for us, but it is not in our possession yet. The anticipation and expectation reminds me that we believers are all in escrow. We’ve got this great house, but we can’t move in because the Architect and Builder is not done. I want to move into the house we are buying, but nothing can compare to the place He is building. (Heb. 11:14-16)



How many of you like waiting?


Yeah, thought so.  Nobody does, but here we are in Redding – waiting.  For several reasons, we can’t make any move on the land until January at the earliest.  So, we wait.

There are some good things about waiting.

First, it gives you time to think and plan so that you’re not just running around aimlessly once you do get moving.  It gives you time to pray and ensure that you’re not heading off in your own direction instead of following Jesus.  It’s a space in the frantic pursuit of whatever you are doing that allows you to consider other options and perspectives or maybe take a side-road that you would otherwise have missed.

Don’t waste the wait, especially by complaining about it.  Take each wait as God’s invitation to slow down and listen instead of running along non-stop with your headphones blasting on a road to nowhere.  God wants to speak.  The choice to listen or not is ours.

Christians use the phrase “wait on the Lord” without thinking that it will involve waiting.  This exercise of patience and admission of dependance is something our old nature hates.  Do it anyway – you’ll be glad you did!

Good Crazy or Bad Crazy?

So, here’s what you need to know about us:

  • We are passionate servants of Jesus.  Everything we are trying to build and do is for Him.  We hope you like it too!
  • We are also nerds.  Big time LOTR, fantasy adventure nerds.
  • We believe in sustainable organic permaculture – growing great food in a way that is good for our planet.
  • We love opening our home and our lives to friends and guests, serving others and making them happy.
  • We think vacations are a time to meet new people and try new things far from the ordinary.

Put all those together, and you get Burrowdale, a country village of earth-covered homes set in the rolling hills of our 300-acre organic farm.

Can you see the little round doors in these hills?

When you come to Burrowdale, you choose a character and join in town life.  You’ll enjoy unique games and activities ranging from beekeeping and beer brewing to archery and horseback riding during your stay.  “Events” help make each guest’s experience special.  Based on your character and preferences, we create entertaining interactions between you and other guests to kick-start town life.  There are also adventures waiting.  Explore beautiful Lassen National Forest or nearby Lake Shasta as you try to reach a goal or find an artifact.  Whether you want non-stop activity or quiet retreat, we’ll tailor your stay to fit you.

We grow almost everything we eat right here.  You can pick fruits and veggies from your own garden and get other farm goods from the town market.  Cook at home, share a meal with friends or go out to the pub.  Either way, your food will be healthy and delicious.  The resort uses zero fossil fuels, pesticides or chemical fertilizers, because sustainability shouldn’t take a vacation.

If this sounds like your kind of place, let us know!  We will keep you informed as we get ready to launch in 2018.  We can’t wait to share this amazing experience with you!

Boots on the Ground

We finally decided to go see some property this weekend.  My mother-in-law kept the boys (THANK YOU!!!) and we took the girls out to Mendocino county.  Having never shopped for acreage before, we were nowhere near prepared.  Of the 8 properties we wanted to see, we were actually able to see only 2.  We ran into locked gates, unmarked property lines and “street” addresses (if they were on the listing – a rarity), dirt roads, creek crossings, and sketchy potential neighbors who probably had a certain cash crop growing.  Still, we learned a ton and we managed to find one property that we really liked.  There was another that I would have probably loved, but we couldn’t get past the gate.  We walked for a while to see if we could get out there, but got lost on the way.  Four hundred acres should not be that hard to find.

It is very easy to get ahead of ourselves, so we will take more time to pray before another trip.  We’ve come up with an alternate plan for the transition, which would involve much less risk, but also more work.  My mom will approve, because it doesn’t involve me quitting my job right away.  I am torn because it feels like a half-measure when we need radical commitment to make this a reality.  It’s good to have some idea of what we can get, and even better to have refined our understanding of what we want, but I still don’t know what God wants.

While we drove, I read a random Psalm out loud (since we missed church) and then we talked about it a bit.  It was Psalm 33, and I was especially encouraged by v. 8-9:

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

My eagerness or hesitancy will not thwart the purpose of God.  If this is His plan, it is inevitable.  We came and saw, but like Joshua and Caleb, it might be longer than we would like until God does the conquering.  The last thing we want to do is miss out on His plan, but the best part is knowing that He doesn’t want us to miss out either.  His will is never a mystery when you are ready to obey, but I’ve learned that He is far more interested in things like purity, humility, love and service.  If we are ignoring His revealed Word, he won’t have much else to say about temporal things until we repent.  I need examine my heart and make sure I am seeking His will in everything before we take another step.

*UPDATE: We are going to Redding on May 2nd to look at another property.  I’m super excited about this one.  Must pray…

W. T.

I didn’t know W. T. Grace well, but I wish I could have.  He was my step-grandpa, and I’m told he had a million ideas. Some of them were terrible, but some were wicked-good.  He was also a cattleman, so he would have lots of specific bits of knowledge and experience that I could use.

I think that he and I would have been great friends if we had lived at the same time.  We share not only a relentless supply of ideas, but also the determination to see them brought to life.  That’s where I’m sure he would out-do me.  Men of his generation knew hardship and could press on through things that would send towels flying in from my generation.

There’s also a bit less Texan and more engineer in me.  I’m “constructively lazy”, as one of my college professors once said.  What I lack in grit, I make up for with creative problem-solving.  So, I’ve started identifying tasks, anticipating problems and developing solutions in advance.  There will still be hard work, and I’ll still want to quit.  In fact, I’m certain that I will come to the end of my own resources – both grit and creativity.

One big difference between me and W. T. is our source of strength.  I know my own strength is limited, and I do not plan to rely on it.  If I do this, it will be because I think God is leading me.  If He is leading me, then I can rely on His strength.  Problem anticipated – solution identified.


We all hit them.  Sometimes they slow us down or take us down a different path, but sometimes they stop us in our tracks.  Our first roadblock comes from the Saul Zaentz Corporation, owners of the rights to Tolkien’s literary works.  Whispering the word “hobbit” raises hairs on the back of some lawyer’s neck, but “halfling” can be used any way you please.  So, we will build halfling holes.  The worst part?  Besides the loss of recognition, auto-correct keeps changing halfling into “hallooing”.  I think this one falls into the “slow us down” bucket.

Will we hit more roadblocks?  AB SO LUTE LY.  Regardless of what they are, the key will be to keep going.  Just keep breathing.  That’s the key…

We are so excited to provide people with a real escape to another world.  I’ve been sniffing out Kickstarter, and I think we will start a campaign to fund our farm’s expansion into a resort in a few years.  There’s a long way to go before then, but everyone is getting really excited to start.  Today, I finally put our 10-year financial plan together based on all the bits and pieces of research we’ve done.  It’s scary how good this looks on paper, but I know reality will be 100X tougher.  About 1000 little projects need to be completed to get us there.  If I’ve learned anything about small projects, its that the ones that don’t get started are the least likely to be completed.

How It All Started

It was 2001.  Tolkien fans were drooling while The Fellowship of the Ring was being filmed.  My wife and I had read the LOTR trilogy during her pregnancy because Reed Hastings hadn’t started Netflix yet.  So, with hobbits and elves in my head, I dreamed up a resort experience unlike anything else.

Fast forward to 2015.  We now have 5 kids.  I have yet to put a shovel in the dirt to make my first hobbit hole, but that may change very soon.  I don’t know where God is leading us, but I’m excited to follow.  We are just about ready to sell off our stocks and buy land, lots of it.  We’ll start with cattle and organic permaculture.  If we can earn enough with the cattle (or the book I’m writing), we’ll build a few extra hobbit holes and elf houses on our land for friends and guests.  I have no idea where this journey will end, but it all started:

In a hole in the ground…