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When we first bought our home, 5 years ago next month, I was so excited I couldn’t handle myself!
The possibilities seemed endless and the property was a life long dream come true, or so I thought…
Our little starter home had been a labor of love and years of hard work had finally started to turn into something good. We had buried sprinkler lines, removed walls, survived babies, toddlers, and floods, finished the basement, painted, laid wood floors, installed base boards, tiled bathrooms, planted fruit trees, flowers, berries, and grew a beautiful productive garden among a hundred other things. Then, our darling neighbor, Nellie, passed away and her beautiful cow filled pasture behind us was developed.
We lost a large chunk of our backyard, including my little garden, in a property dispute.
I’ll never forget the night that Dan, my kind neighbor, found me on my hands and knees, with tears streaming down my face, pulling the soft loamy soil I had put so much energy in to for years from the lost side of the yard to the side I had left. He must have thought I had lost it, and in a way I had. Like a true friend, he got down on his knees and began to move the dirt with me. The next thing I knew, construction workers were peeking in my bedroom window and I had become so claustrophobic I could no longer breathe. We put our house up for sale and in a matter of weeks we were moving our things to a storage unit and bunking up with my in-laws.
Somehow fate smiled on us and we happened to ride the housing market crash just right, selling our starter home for a profit and then buying a wonderful house when prices were down. We purchased a 3,000 square foot two story with an unfinished basement on nearly an acre and a half of land and I was giddy. The house was well above our price range, but we could see the investment potential and had faith that with hard work, saving, and living frugally, it would all work out in the end.
My trucker husband moved us in, dropped the boxes, and off he went. He was gone for a large part of our first 2 years in the home. I kept myself sane by doing house projects, chasing around 4 kids 7 and under, and tormenting my new forever friend, Jaime. Who, by the way, I am still mad at for moving but that’s a post for another day.
Just teasing, I still adore her.
I constantly had something going. I fiddled in my daughters’ odd shaped closet trying to make some sense of the space available. I painted and installed board and bat. I switched out mismatched hardware and spray painted light fixtures.
I found plans for building a washer and dryer stand and enlisted the hubby’s helping hands when he was home for the weekend.
Christmas came and I begged for wood to start our laundry/mudroom project.
I sold things we had around the house on yard sale sites and used my DIY/crafting skills to create fun pieces to sell. I helped out at my parents’ store and did odd jobs for them at their home to earn some cash. I saved up my pennies and cut out extras like new clothes and cute shoes. I used the extra money to buy craft supplies, tools, material, used furniture, wood, and paint.
I framed out the builder grade mirrors in two of the bathrooms, painted the dark cave of an office, and spent hours at my sewing machine making curtains, bedding, and pillows.
Another set of wonderful new friends even helped me plow a patch of sage brush with their big tractor and then worked along beside me as we planted a rough but happy little garden plot. Farmers are forever my favorite people.
I love them with all my country girl heart.
My mind was always whirling and moving on to the next challenge.
I loved it!
I had big plans for our land.
Land, wow for the first time in my life I owned land! My childhood dream of a barn, a huge garden, an orchard filled with chickens, and a small pasture with horses was right in front of me and I could almost touch it!
And then, I realized something I hadn’t until that point.
I lived in an HOA and HOA’s are bossy.
The type of barn we had planned on (that dots the streets of our neighborhood) was no longer permitted in our subdivision. Out-buildings now had to be designed by an architect to match the roof line of the house and be made using the same exterior material. The cost would be far beyond what we could ever afford. My son was told he couldn’t ride on the open trails we were so excited about when we bought the house. Dirt bikes are dirty, you know. Due to a misunderstanding between the developer and the county, there were no water rights and we could not water over 1/4 acre of our promising property.
On our budget, the tick riddled sage brush covered earth was not going to become anything more.
I felt cheated and angry.
I started to take offense to all the little things the well to do neighbors would say about my hand-me-down furniture, my kids, or my blue collar husband.
I’m embarrassed to say, I let a chip grow on my own shoulder and I nursed it along daily.
If they wanted hillbilly, I’d show them hillbilly.
My dreams went from my head to my Pinterest boards and there they sat.
I searched home listings and drove the valley looking for older homes on acreage that we could fix up. On the bitter days I’d send my friends a string of texts telling them how much I hated it here.
Instead of creating a happy home, I was creating a very depressing one.
I was knee deep in self-pity, trucking, church service, and health problems and I was desperately looking for a happy, since I’d squashed my other one. So I started posting more on this blog and began rehabbing and selling more furniture.
Occasionally I would rearrange a room or make a new pillow but for the most part my house has sat. My bedroom is still not fully furnished. The main floor is still that rusty penny orange that makes me want to hurl a hammer through the wall. My laundry room is still lacking cabinets. Our garage is a death trap and our basement has become a DIY version of the 6 Fingered Man’s pit of despair.
With all the changes that have come in my life the last few months, I have been trying to figure out my new normal and have again been trying to find that “happy”. I’ve been praying a lot about where I go from here in this new season and who the Lord wants me to be.
I have felt more than a little lost.
Last week I stumbled upon a post entitled “Dear reader | to the one who’s waiting for the next house” written by one of my favorite creatives, Marian of Miss Mustard Seed. It got me thinking about the way I have been living the last couple of years and made me realize that I need to make a mind shift if I am ever to live in the moment, bloom where I am planted, and thrive creatively.
The only way we could ever afford my dream is if we sold our house and moved to my beloved Sanpete County. For some reason, my husband’s boss doesn’t want to relocate the company there? Go figure. My valley has been discovered by the masses and the price for land is now far beyond what we could make do. So guess what? My dreams have to wait. My heart will hold my daydreams and I am determined to one day make my Barn a reality, but I have come to the understanding that I can’t thrive in wait mode.
It’s time to love where I am right now.
As I have thought about this I’ve realized just how much I have grown to love my neighbors, many of whom have become so very dear to me.
If it wasn’t for this house, I would never have met the women who’s friendships I most treasure.
If it wasn’t for this house, I would have never witnessed my big, shy awkward son grow out of his shell and run around the subdivision gathering friends for games of football or a ride to the creek.
If it wasn’t for our sage brush covered property, my children wouldn’t have had the opportunity to raise animals.
As they learned to care for God’s creatures, they began to understand the joy of gathering their first eggs and the tender loss of a baby chick.
And, if it wasn’t for this house I would have missed out on serving all those incredible teenage girls who each taught me so much and helped me grow closer to my Savior. I have learned and grown so much personally from that amazing experience.
I know with all my heart that God had a purpose for that spiritual adventure.
I am better because of Him and them.
Marian was right, “You are where you are for a reason.”
If I’m going to be intentional about gratitude, like she suggests, I need to focus on the good stuff.
So, just what do I love about my home?
I love the view out my bedroom windows on a snow covered winter morning.
I love the big wall in my dining room that is perfect for my eclectic, sentimental collection of plates.
I love the sound of little feet running down the dirty worn out stairs.
I love our cheerful craft room, full of bright colors and imagination.
I love the sweet little finger puppet shows that pop up sporadically behind the sofa.
I love the family room above the garage and how it is perfect for building blanket forts and family movie nights.
I love the rock garden in the backyard full of perennials.
I love the large pantry with shelves full of food.
I love roasting s’mores around our fire pit in the fall.
I love that warm sunshine that streams down onto the living room couch on cold afternoons, just begging me to curl up and nap in it.
I love that my laundry has a room with a door I can shut to hide the mess.
I love the hummingbirds that visit us every summer and the elk that show up when it’s snows.
I love coming up the driveway to find my granny dog sleeping under the shade of a bush with her bone.
I love watching my neighbor’s honeybees buzz from blossom to blossom in my flower beds.
I love the big, ugly, wonky shaped island that I spread flour and roll out dough on.
(However, I still hate the sharp edged granite that ruins all my good shirts!)
I love the lovely, warm wood floors under my feet.
I love long bubble baths in my large tub after the kids are finally asleep and the house is quiet.
I love my daughter’s magical reading corner when her yard sale chandelier is all lit up and sparkling.
I love the smell of the purple lilacs in the spring.
I love that the bedrooms are on the second floor and that I can work on the downstairs without disturbing anyone’s sleep.
I love the secret nooks and crannies that give a newer house old time charm.
I love the little landing in the hallway where our family kneels down each night for prayer.
And, I love the rumble of my husband’s truck coming up the road.
To not let the future rob me of the present, I need to truly love the present.
Living in the now and blooming.
I am and forever will be a dreamer, so how can I make my current home a dream come true?
I can tinker and create, paint and patch, sew and bake.
I can fill it with the moments, things, and people I love.
I can choose to creatively bloom where I am planted, in this moment, right now.
The whole idea has gotten me feeling excited again!
Even though this house will most likely not be my forever home, I can still fill it with love and life. Even though I will probably never look out this kitchen window to see my daughters riding horses on this land I can still watch them learn to do flips on the trampoline or sneak fresh beans from the garden.
It’s all about perspective.
Thank you, Marian, for the reminder.
So grab a seat, or better yet a hammer, and hold on tight because this house is going to become a happy home again over the next few months. Little by little, extra penny by extra penny.
Someday, when my dream barn is a reality and I leave this home with it’s warm napping sun in the living room, I will pass it on to the next family knowing I gave it my all and stuffed it full of love.
Hmmm, where should I start first?
Dated cream ceilings and rusty orange walls… I’m coming for you.
*What do you love about the home you are in?*