It doesn't come naturally to me to share stuff in my life that is 'in process.' I'd much rather share my story when it has a resolution, when it's a done deal, when the mess is over and the story has a clear ending, one that makes sense and you can look back at the bumps in the road and see what their purpose was...
But I've been thinking lately that when we only share the finished "perfect" (quotation marks because nothing in life is ever really "perfect") stuff in life, it can give the impression that life is perfect. Or that messes don't ever happen. Or that you're never in situations that you don't understand while you're in the midst of them. And that simply is not the case.
So here I go sharing something that we are in the middle of, and it doesn't all make sense yet, and there isn't a clear and definitive end to. But it's something that is dear to my heart and exciting, something we've dreamed of for a long time, and something we are spending a ridiculous amount of our time on right now. Something that feels like a risk, making big decisions that I don't know if I'm equipped to make.
Building our farmhouse.
I use the term 'building' lightly, because we haven't actually broken ground yet. ;)
Back in the earliest season of our marriage I remember having vague conversations about building a home someday. By the time Drew was born in 2009 we knew that was for sure a dream in our hearts. In 2010 when we were beyond ready to move our of our teeny tiny two bedroom apartment we looked for land. We found some, but it didn't feel quite right. And although I could vaguely see a long front porch and open windows and peonies blooming outside, a clothesline perhaps and a vegetable garden, those were only the dim beginnings of the vision for the home that would eventually etch itself into our minds.
We bought our townhouse in October of 2010 and I honestly love it so much I could stay here forever. But as our babies have grown (and as we've brought three more babies into our family since then) the yard seems to have gotten smaller and smaller... And the dream of a farmhouse where we can incorporate simpler ways of living into our lives has grown larger and larger. In the beginning of 2015 we began contemplating purchasing land from Shaun's parents' farm to build on. I really love the town we live in now, so it was hard for me to imagine moving from here. But we will only be about 15 minutes from where we currently are, and over the course of a few months I really started to embrace the idea. By May of 2015 (when I was a few days pregnant with Havilah but didn't even know it yet) we took a walk as a family around the farm scouting out where we would want to build. Because the farm is in ag preserve it was tricky to figure out where that might be. At first we thought we might try to buy ten acres but all the hoops to jump through were kind of crazy, so by the end of summer of 2015 we settled upon a one acre lot that had been kept out of ag preserve. In September of 2015 we had our first meeting with our builders. By that time I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Havilah and we had the idea that our engineer would be able to get all the storm water/septic/permits figured out by about January or February and we'd start building in the spring. Well that surely did not happen. The land was not subdivided, which takes time and more money than we realized to do, and turned out there would be all kinds of hurdles for putting in a septic system that would meet all the requirements and not be too close to any wells, and could actually be affordable if we wanted to still build a house after putting in a septic system. (One of our quotes was $200,000- just for the septic!!!!! Insane!!) Anyway, it has taken us a full year from that first meeting with our builder and we still haven't broken ground. It's been frustrating at times. It's brought situations where we have had to tread lightly in things we never imagined. We've wondered if we should just give up. We've calculated our finances to make sure we can really do this about a hundred times. But overall, I have felt so so so much peace. The timing is in God's hands. We just need to keep walking. But He has it all figured out already. I would not have been ready to pack up our house with a newborn baby and move. I am content where I am at, and that is such a gift.
In this process over the last year I have seen so many times where we were ready to call it quits, questioning if this dream of ours is really what we are supposed to do, and God steps in with the most amazing reassurance. It's been a really beautiful faith journey. Just a few examples... One night I was talking with Shaun's mom about how I'd really love to do a brick surround for our gas fireplace, maybe even a brick sidewalk, but how brick is expensive and I don't think we're going to be able to do anything extra like that... (I had originally wanted a white painted brick exterior, but just to do the front of the house was an additional $15,000... learning lots of numbers like that in this process :) ) Anyway, on our way home that night we passed a brick building being demolished. There was a sign in front of it with a number on it. Shaun called the number and the guy told us we could come take as much brick as we wanted. (!!!!) I found out later that my great-grandmother had gone to church in that building at one time. So now the brick that we will one day use around our fireplace was not only free, but has a story and history and feels like such a gift from Jesus.
Another story... we want to put a wood stove in our basement so that we have a natural (and free) source of heat for our home. I found a style of wood stove that I loved online, and had pinned a picture of it. It was about $1000. I was hoping maybe we would find something similar on craigslist for half of that. A few weeks later we randomly decided to take a drive on a Saturday and go to Chic-Fila for lunch. On our way there Shaun suddenly hit the brakes and said "did you see that?!" I was like "Oh my gosh what??" Thinking there was an accident or something wrong... He was like "There's a woodstove on the side of the road!!" Ha! So we turned around and drove back. And I kid you not, it was the exact woodstove that I had pinned for sale for $125. We called the number and the lady came to meet us. She said they would take $100 for it. And her husband even delivered it to our house. They had used it for one winter and decided they were getting to old for a wood stove. It was in perfect condition.
We have so many more stories like this... We got a dishwasher, a utility sink, a gorgeous chandelier, and six white cabinets for free from a customer of Shaun's that he does landscaping for because they were remodeling their house. There are more things I'm on the hunt for in the time we have left before we begin building, but I'm just blown away by the things that have already happened like this.
The extra time to think over our layout, square footage, design, functionality, etc for our new home have been wonderful. This is a process I really don't want to rush. We've enjoyed it so much.
I'm inspired by classic design. When we visited Williamsburg in 2014 I was head over heels for the clean lines, simplicity and symmetry of the homes. Add in the picket fences and lovely gardens and... oh my. Take a little farmhouse plus a little cottage plus what I mentioned above of colonial and there you have what I hope to create. I imagine chickens and a big vegetable garden and a farmhouse sink and an archway in the entry among so many other details that are growing more and more clear in my mind all the time.
Here are a few images of homes that inspire me also:
I hope to have an all white exterior with some board and batten detail for interest and to add a bit of a cottage element. I have always loved farmhouses where the peak of the gable faces the road. That was a huge starting place as I began sketching out our house about a year and a half ago. What I love about our builder is that they literally took our sketches and dimensions and everything we have asked for and turned them into professional renderings. This house and layout and the dimensions first existed in our dreams and that is just so, so cool to me. So here we are, still fine tuning our plans and figuring out what upgrades we can afford now and what projects will wait until later. We still don't have a ground breaking date yet. But it's getting closer all the time. I can feel it. And I'm soaking up and enjoying every day in our current home, because I know it will be so hard for me to leave it, even though I'm so excited for what is to come.
So that's where we are currently in our journey. It is not finished, it's a bit messy, and I'm not quite sure what the ending looks like... but thanks for joining me in the process. :)