Family & Faith
Our family started a journey without even knowing we were traveling. Grief, loss, betrayal by the church, secrets, and personal failure threatened our very relationships with God, each other, and those nearest to our hearts. We set ourselves right with God the best way we knew how, but we soon learned (for us) a relationship with God could not be based on bargaining through obedience.
"Obedience did not come before love.
It was love first, and obedience followed naturally."
When we opened ourselves to fully loving our God, and accepting His merciful love for us (separate from circumstances and success) things finally began to change. There has been extensive healing over these last several years in our friendships, in our home, and in our hearts. Restoration did come, but it wasn't through us (or because we deserved it) it was through the very nature of our loving, and gracious God.
Restoration Ark is named in honor of our personal pilgrimage of faith.
In 2017, our family joined forces with other families in our community to create a cooperative garden. Together we plowed, planted, weeded, and harvested our own organic, heirloom herbs and vegetables. We are constantly working to develop gardens and orchards on the grounds to bring the same sense of purpose and accomplishment gardening has brought us in the past. This year we added chickens to the Restoration Ark herd, and we will soon expand to having wool rabbits as well.
The location, now known as Restoration Ark has a long history in this area. It was purchased by various families, then donated to the Bledsoe Baptist Association. They eventually transferred ownership to Salem Baptist Association. This is where the story takes a unique turn.
Down the road, in Carthage, TN in the 1950's was a family who owned and operated a farm. They were actively involved in their church. Their son, Norris, who was born in 1936, joined the Airforce and became a pilot during the Vietnam War. He was transferred to various states, eventually settling in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife and young daughter. He served in wartime and successfully piloted a vessel delivering and picking up soldiers during the war despite enemy fire.
On Christmas Day, when he was 27 years old, he decided to travel to Tennessee to see his family for the holidays. The trip ended soon after it began. A vehicle, being chased by the Anchorage Police, crossed the middle line, hitting his family head on. Captain Thomas was killed instantly. His wife was critically injured, and their young 4 year old daughter had minor injuries. His parents were devastated with his loss.
Back in Tennessee, the Thomas' church, as well as the local association (Salem Baptist Association) were in the process of building a campground for ministering to others. Various churches each sponsored a cabin to be built. Captain Thomas' family also built a cabin in honor of Norris, and the association further honored him, by naming the camp, "Camp Nor-Da-Tho." His mother traveled to the Westmoreland Campground with her grand-daughter often, where she served in the kitchen. Captain Thomas' daughter grew up with a wonderful step father, and leads a very happy and full life with her family, serving in ministry as her grandmother did many years before.
As time moved on, the camp was sold to various owners, and for many years it belonged to Mission Discovery. Countless families and their children have precious memories attending church camps here. Restoration Ark seeks to preserve those cherished moments by updating the buildings and re-opening the doors to families, churches, organizations, businesses and other small groups for weddings, gatherings, reunions, and retreats.
This will be a place where people can relax, disconnect from the internet,
and reconnect with each other in a charming woodland haven.
Thank you to Elegant Homes Photography for such beautiful footage of our campground.