Our purpose was to create an eco-village where we can encourage each other to follow the nonviolent teachings of Jesus on all levels of living. Creation care is fundamental in both the teachings of Jesus and the entire Bible.
I, Patricia, realized that although I am a Christian, I don’t want to limit the community to be only for Christians. Plus, I became a vegan and animal rights activist. Cliff and I are co-founders of the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage which you can learn about here.
We are learning more how to design our community using permaculture principles. The description that is written below was written about 2015. So many things have changed!
The picture above is one taken of the members of our community:
Wellspring Community is Robert, Cliff, Chris and Patricia. We are four adults and one teenager. We have been a community since about 1992 when Robert, Cliff and Patricia all made the commitment to move to Arkansas to find land in order to start community. Mahriyanna has now married and is living with her husband, Josh Harms about 40 minutes from our community.
When I (Patricia) first started this blog, the way I looked at Wellspring Community was that we were a community in formation. I thought that we couldn’t call ourselves community until someone else joined us. Thankfully, I was wrong.
On June 20, 2013, we had a meeting and decided that we are a community. Previously we had looked at ourselves as an extended family.
After researching and connecting with various communities which I am visiting, I came to the realization that many communities start with a small core group. The fact that we have been together for twenty one years (except for Mahriyanna–she has been with us seventeen years because she was not born when we all first got together) is something to celebrate.
Like other successful communities, we have gone through many challenges and weathered countless storms. Our commitment to staying together hinged to a great degree on the fact that we want our children to be close to their parents. When we adults felt inclined to leave, our love for our children drew us back to each other. And we have all found that we are so glad that we stayed together because we love each other and share many more values than raising our children, one of whom is now an adult.
I am now going to share more about us so that you can get to know us better. We want to expand our Christ-centered circle of love to others when the time is right. Your comments are welcome.
We have an unusual set up. Robert Kersbergen is my second former husband. We divorced about two years ago. Cliff is my first former husband. We divorced about 23 years ago. Fortunately, Cliff and I had split up before I met Robert. So it has been easier for them to be friends then if there had been an adulterous affair.
The reasons why we are no longer married are very complex. How much simpler life would be. How much simpler writing this description would be! How many times have I read about Christian couples who have been together ten, twenty, thirty, forty years and they are so happy! But I refused to take on a feeling of condemnation. What I celebrate is that we are all cooperating. We bought our 27 seven acres of land about ten years ago because we all worked together to raise the down payment, make the place livable, and pay the mortgage. We have together raised two children, Mahriyanna 17 and Chris 24, and they are people who we love, cherish, respect. Robert is father to Mahriyanna, and Cliff is father to Chris. I am mom to both.
Cliff and I have known each other since I was 21 which is 38 years ago. Robert and I got together almost 23 years ago. So we have been cooperating twenty three years. Wow! That is something to celebrate. But our commitment to be community and stay together really happened when we all moved to Arkansas about 21 years ago.
The thing I appreciate most about Cliff and Robert is that they are both wonderful, dedicated, passionate fathers who have showered their attention, time, resources, and of course love on both our children who return that love so beautifully. Although Cliff has lived with Chris for most part, and Mahriyanna with Robert and I, there were times we all lived together in one household. They both love both children so much and have influenced their lives in many diverse ways. We have worked together on numerous projects that have bonded us as a community.
One thing I respect about Cliff and Robert is that they were both against the Vietnam war and continue to be against war. Cliff was a conscientious objector. Robert demonstrated against the war. We also have, from the beginning, shared many values includingof healthy living, concern for the environment, love for God, and a desire for living in healthy community.
I know. You might be wondering–if they are so great, why couldn’t you stay with them. That is a question that needs a book to answer. But I will say that I have a tremendously independent spirit and even though I surrendered my life to Christ 12 years ago, it has been a difficult journey to really surrender all. With Cliff, the over riding belief with 99% of my friends was that divorce is perfectly okay. With Robert, I was just so stressed out with working too much and not being with my family and other challenges that I was mentally really quite unstable I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or anything–but I was going through menopause and very up and down. Maybe we will be reconciled some day. I believe that with a healthy community surrounding us, it would be more possible than living the life of such intensity trying to make a living and keep all the balls up in the air.
My kids are totally sold out to following Jesus. They share my values of non-violence, creation care, simple living, service to the needy, learning to live in God’s love, and learning how more and more to love God and love people.
Chris is a 24 year old college student at University of Arkansas. He was home birthed and attachment parenting as shared by Dr. William Sears was our philosophy of child rearing. Fortunately that was another value shared by Robert and Cliff. Even though I resisted being tied down to raising a kid, God gave me the grace even before I gave my life to Christ to know that the early years were essential if I was going to have a good relationship with my son, and I was a mostly stay at home mom until he was four.
We unschooled Chris–unschooling is a way of homeschooling that let’s the child follow his or her passion with us parents supporting him. He was very drawn to music when he was thirteen and that has been his main passion since then. He has a band called The Flight to Light that plays mostly his original songs. They also lead worship from time to time.
When he decided to go to college when he was nineteen with his father’s encouragement and support, he studied for the SAT test for three weeks and then passed it except for math, which was not unusual for even a high school graduate. He was accepted at University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he lived part time, and he will graduate next semester. He has chosen not to rush through college because he really likes his free time to work with Fun Fellowship and Service which is the service and spiritual group that he and his sister started about five years ago. He also really likes practicing and performing with his band, and having time to hang out with his family and friends.
Chris is a respected leader by both the young people and the older people. He leads worship frequently, and is a kind, loving man who I am so glad is my son. Last year our experience of producing The Flight to LIght Experience, a mini-festival and concert that served as an outreach to the local young people, brought us closer together than anything we had ever done. I was inspired by how he followed through with all he said he would do. He was in charge, but I mentored him and supported him in many ways. The event was a great success in so many ways. He is a true servant leader.
Chris recently attended orientation at Camp War Eagle where he will be a camp counselor for a month. He was so humble–he hadn’t told me until I asked that there were over a thousand applicants and only about 200 were chosen. We never pushed our kids to be high achievers–but both of our children are very self-motivated.
Mahriyanna, seventeen, has also been unschooled up until about three years ago when she really wanted more structure in her schooling. About six months ago she started taking on-line classes from Penn-Foster to get her high school. She loves her studies and wishes she had more time to work on her studies. She works once a week for a neighbor helping her clean and garden. Very dedicated to service, she helps Chris with Fun Fellowship and Service–they spur each other on. That is beautiful to see.
Mahriyanna loves to have long conversations with me about all kinds of topics including and especially the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. I love her insights and I am so inspired by how she is living out what she learns. Having a lot of good friends, as her brothers does, at the Christian fellowship we attend, is such a blessing. Peer pressure is actually mostly positive since almost everyone share similar values of Christian living including purity, modesty, and loving God and loving people. Both Chris and Mahriyanna moved a lot as children, so when we found Living Springs, the neighborhood where we purchased land, this gave us good and mostly healthy roots. They have known their friends now for twelve years, and have seen some of them be married.
Mahriyanna, Robert and I live together now. Robert and I were living separately when we split up, but the pressure of maintaining separate households and trying to share time with Mahriyanna was so great that we decided to do our best to cooperate as friends under one roof. Mahriyanna does value having us together, and she helps so much around the house. Recently one of her good friends started eating mostly raw. Although we have always been into healthy eating, with Mahriyanna’s encouragement we try to eat about 80% raw. She is exercising intentionally and very much into over all fitness.
Something that I appreciate very much about my children is that they love each other and since Mahriyanna was about twelve, they have bonded as very good friends. I love how they support each other, spend time together and are so harmonious. When Chris’s first band, the Flight Brigade fell apart, a year or so later he was asked to play music at a peaceful pro-life rally for youth. He asked Mahriyanna to join him in being a new band called The Flight to Light, and even though she barely knew how to play the piano, she agreed in order to help him. Chris doesn’t play much piano but he taught her the specific parts he knew and now she is quite a good key board player. She didn’t know that most people play a lot longer before they perform! I think they practiced for about 4-5 weeks.
Our community shares birthdays and holidays. We used to spend a lot more time together working on our land, but for many reasons we have drifted apart as a cohesive unit. But we look forward to a time when we can work together more. Robert is helping Cliff build his house which he hopes will be done by fall.
I want to close by sharing about how we love to spend Christmas together. This past Christmas was the best ever. We decided that Christmas eve would be the time to open presents because we wanted to make Christmas day more about Jesus. We love to buy presents for each other and think about what will make each other happy. We made waffles together for breakfast and then had a birthday party for Jesus. We wrote down our presents that we wanted to give to Jesus and put them in a box. We did some other things that were very meaningful to us that day. There was such a feeling of love, warmth, and connectedness. I really hoped that we could meet weekly to keep this feeling of love going and to encourage our spiritual formation. But the busy-ness of life has kept us from doing that. And that is why I yearn for community–where people can help each other more so life won’t be so hectic and demanding. I long for a day when my family can be once again working together side by side as we have in the past, sharing meals, fun, prayer, worship, conversations, work and so much more.
I want to share my beautiful community with others who value and cherish us as we can value and cherish them-as God values and cherishes us. I feel so grateful that more and more people delight in our uniqueness as they celebrate with us that even though our pain and distress has prevented us adults from having the long-lasting marriages we would have liked, our children have opportunities to learn from our mistakes. I hope and pray we are leaving a legacy of healing that will result in much healing and sharing of our mistakes so that others can avoid what we have endured.
You can learn more about me at www.simplifiedliving.info or www.patriciamikkelson.wordpress.com or www.revivalnwa.wordpress.com I’m on Facebook as well. https://www.facebook.com/patricia.mikkelson.hughes
My children have started a Christ-centered youth group called Fun Fellowship and Service http://www.facebook.com/funfellowshipandservice
Chris is on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cmikkelson?fref=ts
They also play in a band called The Flight to Light
Get to know Cliff at his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cliff.mikkelson?fref=ts
I look forward to getting to know those of you who resonate with what is shared on this blog. Shalom.
You can find general information about Wellspring Community here