Random Gratitude..

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It’s no secret that the last four years have been difficult for reasonably normal people,  but sometimes you get hit with such enormous, random blessings that it would be a crime not to acknowledge them.  I wasn’t able to attend any fellowship today, so this is my worship.  It’s about thankfulness.  When you get the chance to really praise someone for their kindness, or their genius, or their beauty, or their friendship, it seems to me we acknowledge God by loving the people He put all around us..

Two South East Asia Blessings

Number One: A Finnegan’s Wake Friend

Social Media makes odd things possible.  Picture this: it’s Sunday, around seven in the morning.  I am reading trending stuff on X. My phone vibrates and someone wants to video chat with me on Instagram. I don’t think I’m a particularly vain person, but I am vain enough to think “do I really want to video chat with someone at 7 in the morning?”  I have a ratty robe on.  My hair is standing straight up.  I am wearing my thick, near-sighted glasses.  I think “what the heck” and press the “answer” button.  My correspondent replies, “Ooops my husband just tacked me. LOL so sorry.  haha.  **tackled**”  (It is 11:30 PM her time, and she and her husband are enjoying sea food on a river cruise.)

This was a farm guest who has moved from America to Southeast Asia.  From our correspondence, it appears she and her husband of thirty years have been living the retirement life on the other side of the world, and they met us here, at one of our dinner theater events.

I know she’s a kindred spirit.  We have been corresponding on Instagram for the last year, so just ponder this blessing:  She checks in with me. A guest became a friend.  If you have ever experienced what it is like to have a stranger approach you and say, (effectively), “you and I are fellow soldiers,” it can be something like God sending you an angel to say, “it’s okay; we’re together in this.”

Number Two: A former employee BOMBS us with a blessing..

We have a chat window on our website, and people can talk to our reservation department or leave us a message.  I woke up the other morning to get an email from the office: “Good morning, You received a very nice ticket in the chat. Thought you would want to read it.”

Here it is..

Many years ago, it must have been 2006 or 2007, I briefly worked at Riley’s Farm. I had just returned from living as a missionary in South Sudan during the height of the civil war. I was only 20 years old, traumatized, and unsure how to get on with life. Someone pushed me to take a job at Riley’s Farm as one of the field trip hosts for Colonial Days. I had no idea how much I needed to be there. For a few hours every day I could be someone else. I could put on a costume and escape reality for a trip to the past.

Looking back, Mr. and Mrs. Riley saved me. I was depressed, struggling, and I’m sure I wasn’t the greatest employee, but they were patient and involved and they cared.

Now, almost 20 years later, I live in Indonesia and I have a family of my own. For the last 12 years my husband and I have been running a school that we founded. The basis of our school is experiential learning, and heavily focused on History. My teachers use costumes, decorations and real life experiences to take kids on adventures in the classroom. I didn’t realize it until recently, but Riley’s Farm must have been the inspiration behind what I do now.

So I want to say thank you to all the people who were at Rileys all those years ago. You’ve made a global impact and I pray success for you always.

A Finnegan’s Blessing

I was watching my youngest son, Gabriel, entertaining the guests at Finnegan’s Wake last night, and I was suddenly overcome by my sense of how important it is for people to have children.  I looked around the room.  Here I am — 64 years old — a little hard of hearing, and I was so powerfully grateful for these beautiful young people who were taking care of the guests — making them laugh, sharing stories, feeding them.

A young woman who works for us signaled me to come over and look at her phone.  She had her picture gallery up..

She said, “here I am at eight years old, up at your brother’s place on a field trip, and here I am just a few years ago at one of your dinner theater events.” She let me know how important the farm had been in her life.

She must have known I needed a little encouragement.  I’m not sure if I project some sort of sadness, or frustration, but when you see someone in their twenties, serving people, laughing with them, singing with them, you get this “truth wins” medicine all at once.  I slept very well last night.  I pulled up the covers and offered a prayer: “You have been more kind to me than I deserve.”

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This post was written by Jim Riley


  • Ceallaigh Mac says:

    Jim, all these words and blessings come from more people than you could possibly believe… I too have been blessed with the Riley’s Farm magic, love and wholesomeness. It is men like you who give us strength to fight the good fight and press in through our doubts, fears, frustrations. I, too, am thankful and grateful to be a loyal patron and promoter of Riley’s farm and, well, you. Thank you! I will see you next Saturday at Finnegan’s Wake!!

  • Lisa H says:

    Beautiful post. Thankful for you!

  • Charles Evered says:

    what a wonderful collection of experiences that remind us to be thankful, always, I loved Riley’s Farm when I was there, and hope to return someday.

  • Randy Gibson says:

    Jim, you and Mary have made a place where people can go and feel a part of something that in a real sense does not exist in our world anymore. We are so very grateful for you and your vision and the profound faith in God that inspires you. Blessings on you both my dear, dear friends.
    ♥️ -Randy Gibson

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