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Blessings on Our Home and Family

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I want to tell you a possibly long, but very wonderful story. It is the story of God’s blessings on our family, and how those blessings got us to where we are now.. You may be the type of person that does not believe in God’s blessings, and I am not going to convince you otherwise. I will tell you, however, that many of the blessings that we received were specifically prayed for, and had one thing not fallen into place, it would have been the domino that knocked down all the other dominoes. God is blessing us each and every day and it is so obvious to us that this is exactly where he means us to be, doing exactly what he means us to be doing!

In the Fall of 2013, we flew to Minnesota from West Virginia to do a land search. We rented a car and with an extremely uncooperative three year old, we executed a painstaking search across Northern Minnesota to find a piece of land to call home. Our land in Alaska had finally sold six months prior, after being on the market for almost four years (blessing). We had the money for the down payment, but just needed the land. We drove over 3,000 miles in our little rental car, and after two weeks of looking at over forty properties, we were ready to admit defeat. The last day in Grand Rapids, we prayed and prayed for God to show us his path for us. We expanded our search to include properties above our ideal price, and found the piece that we are now building a home on (blessing). We drove out on the last day before returning to St Paul. When we got out of the car, my husband knew immediately that he liked the property. It had a field, a creek, wooded area, and was close to 40 acres. It was everything that we wanted, except the price was slightly higher than we were comfortable with. We ended up having almost exactly enough for the down payment and closing costs (blessing), and purchased the property later in the Fall, after returning to West Virginia. We did not know the exact timing of the move, or how it would play out, but when Spring came, I prayed about it, and felt that we should try to sell the house and if God wanted us in Minnesota this year, he would make it happen.

We listed the house on April 14th, 2014, at 4pm, and received an offer the next morning, at 11am (blessing). It took a couple of months and another offer to finally sell, but the closing date was ultimately set for July 11th, 2014. In order to get out of the house on time, we had to take most of our belongings to storage at my parents, pack up an entire machine shop, and house, and use a fork lift to move my husband’s machines to storage, while also managing a three year old and a six month old. The last two weeks, God was again answering prayers to provide people to watch the kids, help us pack, find someone to move the machinery (who charged a nominal fee), obtain the needed trailers, get work done on the trucks (that would have prevented us from moving had it not gotten done), and other odds and ends that fell into place at just the right time. By God’s grace, we closed on the house at 11:30am on Friday, July 11th, and drove away in the two trucks, with two trailers, the two kids, and the dog at 1:30pm.

We arrived at the property on Sunday, July 13th, around 4pm. We set up the tent and settled in for our first night. We were excited, nervous, and hopeful. Little did we know the rain, mud, muck, and hardship that we would face for the next ten weeks. The neighbor introduced himself the next morning, and offered to let us get water from his well as long as we needed it. We gladly filled our tanks next door instead of driving in to the local campground (blessing). The second night in the tent, a storm blew in that brought 70mph winds, rain, lightning as I have never seen before, and fallen trees. My husband and I stood braced against the poles of our cheap Walmart 10×20 tent for about 25 minutes while the winds howled and sounded like a freight train bearing down on us. We still have no idea how that tent stayed in one piece (blessing). Eventually the lightning, rain, and wind subsided and we went back to sleep to the sound of cracking and falling trees in the forest around us, praying again that none would fall on us (blessing). That was the beginning of many events that started in prayer, and ended in blessings. The next six weeks seemed to be anything but a blessing, with rain, rain, and more rain. The rain stopped our progress, the rain kept contractors busy so we could not find anyone to help with the site work, or the foundation, the rain dampened our spirits. Everything was wet and moldy, the tent was leaking, and we had yet to get anything substantial done on the house, but we spent those four weeks learning so much about our family unit. God used those four weeks to strengthen us and bring us together (blessing). As a result of the delays, he also allowed the next sequence of events to happen just the way he intended.

My husband’s brother and dad had planned to come and help get the shell of the house up, and we needed to get the foundation done prior to their arrival, but the rain just kept coming. Finally, we got the site work done, and my brother and sister-in-law had one last day to help before returning to work (blessing). They came out and helped get the forms ready and do the ground work for the slab foundation. We had one day to pour the foundation during a break in the weather (blessing). My husband’s family unexpectedly were able to arrive a week earlier than planned, and arrived two days before the pour (blessing). They were able to help get the concrete work done for the slab and then spend the next few days waiting out the rain to get started on the house. I took the kids down to my brother’s house in St Paul and over the next two weeks, the guys built the house from the ground up. They were able to get the house almost completely ‘dried in’ save the metal roofing. They were able to stay an extra three days to help finish things up (blessing). After calling over twenty five roofing contractors, we finally found one that could get the roof done and came out the day after the family left, and got the metal on in about six hours (blessing). The roof was paid for with the completely unexpected gift from family in Texas (blessing). The roofing company was the last option before we would possibly lose the entire house to the weather if we could not get the roof on (blessing).

This was the first week in September, and we moved into the house fairly quickly after the roof went on because the temperatures were expected to drop into the forties at night. Once in the house, work slowed considerably, but we were dry, and fairly warm. We still had no electricity, no running water, and no septic. The house was uninsulated and completely unfinished, but it was better than the tent. We began attending a local church shortly after moving into the house. The pastor and his wife offered (after meeting us once at church) to let us house sit for them and get hot showers, do laundry, and relax (blessing). They offered again the following weekend, and we were able to continue getting work done on the house while having a much needed break at their house on the weekends (blessing). The following week, my husband’s grandparents came to visit, offering us an extra room at the lodge they were staying at ten miles from the property. We spent two wonderful days with them, letting them get to know the kids, and talking about God and his plan for us, and they surprised us with another unexpected monetary gift (blessing). The same week, my parent’s gave us a loan with no conditions that would allow us to spend the next four weeks trying to get the house insulated before returning to work (blessing).

I was able to find a job just in time with a flexible schedule, not horribly far from home, and they were going to allow me to start a month after hiring me to give us more time to work on the house (blessing). We still had no electricity, no running water, no septic, no heat, and no insulation. The second week of church, we were approached by a couple who had heard our situation, and pleaded with us to move into their vacant home that was for sale, and refused to take any compensation (blessing). We began house sitting two weeks ago, and have since been able to complete the insulation, get the permitting process started for the septic system, find someone to do the work for the septic, and I will get paid just in time to get the system in and ready. Tomorrow we will begin with the drywall, and with more of God’s blessing, we will hope to move back into the house in the first or second week of November.

It would be so easy to see all of the hardship, all of the arguments, all of the rain, and pain, and not see God’s blessings on us. The truth is, though, that if just one thing had not happened in the sequence of events, we would not have gotten here when we did, or we would have run out of money, or we would not have had enough help to get the house built, or we would not have gotten the roof on, or we would have had no jobs, or we would have had no backup plan, or we would have simply flopped in this crazy plan to move across the country, live in a tent with two kids, and build a house. Many people would think we were foolish, or hasty, or just plain dumb. But we were relying on God every step of the way to guide us and protect us. We asked him for help daily, and prayed for his direction in our lives. He has blessed us so richly and deeply, and we are so thankful for his love. It is so exciting to be taking on this adventure, knowing that his plan for us is so much grander than we can imagine. We know without a doubt that this is where he wants us to be. God wanted us to be here, building a home from the ground up, building our family from the ground up, and rebuilding our lives with God at the center.

Moving In and Moving Up

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We moved into the house about three weeks ago- nothing on the inside was finished yet, but everyone was tired of the tent. It has been aggravating trying to get the electrical wiring done and insulate, while working around all of our things. The kids ‘room’ is in the future bathroom- the interior walls are built but no drywall yet, so it is essentially still like living in one big room together. Our bed is in the future kitchen, and we have the utility sink and propane stove set up by the door. The downstairs is insulated and we are waiting to finish the upstairs before we drywall. This seems to be the hardest stretch yet. Everyone is tired of working, tired of ‘roughing it’, and tired of thinking about all of the things we still have to do before winter. It is hard to muster up the energy to work day after day while feeling like the end will never come!

We took a mini-break the last few days and tomorrow we will start back up again. Projects to complete first include installing the soffit and fascia, the outside insulation for the frost-protected slab, building the interior walls for the upstairs, electrical and insulation upstairs, building the stairs, drywall, and installing the woodstove. Projects that are going on the side include putting in the shallow hand-pump well, having a holding tank installed (hot showers, yay!), and working on solar hot air and hot water collectors. In addition to all that needs to be completed, I will be returning to work part-time in two weeks. It is going to be a tough winter, I know that, but hopefully we wil have plenty of time and energy to dream about the year to come- finishing the house, getting a garden in, planting trees, obtaining some livestock, and building a garage.

We feel more peaceful now about being here. Being in the tent was intense. The rain beat us down, literally, and washed away our steadfastness. The mud and muck and wetness pervaded our lives and dampended our enthusiasm. Everything became harder to deal with. Making decisions felt impossible, and we felt a bone-weary fatigue every day that seemed to chase us from sun up to sun down. Now that we are in the house, things feel more manageable. There is no mistaking the fact that we still have a mound of things to accomplish, but we feel like no matter what happens now, we will be okay and we will get through it. We are enjoying the quiet evenings together with no distractions. We thought that electricity would be the first thing we would want, but we have since realized that septic and water will come first, with electricity to come later. Neither one of us minds the lanterns and the kids really do not notice the difference.

I am sitting in our one comfortable chair while I write this, looking up now and then at the crescent moon staring in the window at me, and feeling quiet inside. I am so thankful that God opened the path before us to bring us here. I miss my friends, and I miss many of the comforts of ‘home’, but I know that this is where we need to be right now, and my heart is quiet and still. Peace is knowing that the kids will grow up out here, hopefully loving the land as we do, and peace is knowing that our family will be stronger, richer, and more connected with God for having done this.

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