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Out of The Rain

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Hindsight is always so humbling, isn’t it?  Today it rained most of the day.  Although I have had a long stretch of time off of work (the one I actually get paid for), we decided that we would try to work on the house every other day and spend some time together as a family the rest of the time.  Today was a work day, actually, it was a painting day.  We are finishing the trim in the bathroom and starting on the trim upstairs around the windows.  I waited and waited all morning for a break in the rain.  The break came right after lunch, so I ran the trim down to the new building and set up to paint.  I painted off and on for a couple of hours.  While I painted I listened to the rain on the metal roof (one of my favorite sounds).  As usual, I spent the time alone thinking about our life, and reflecting.

Such a simple pleasure to be in the shop painting while the rain poured down.  Dave spent a little bit of time with me while the kids were sleeping and we laughed about all the times in the past three years when just having a roof over us would have been such a blessing.  We still cannot figure out why we talked ourselves out of building the shop before the house!  We could have had this huge space for the kids to play in the first year when it rained all but about ten days while we lived in the tent.  We could have had the tent set up in the shop!  We kept having to move the kitchen tent around because the ground underneath it would get so thick with mud and muck.  We could have had our ‘kitchen’ in the shop.  We could have had a space for the many tools and building materials so that  I wasn’t sharing the living room with them once we moved in to the house.  I did not think about all of this to make myself feel miserable for not making the right choice, I just thought about it because I realized that things often look much clearer in the rear view mirror.  I felt so blessed to be painting on a day that would have been unproductive.  We waited the rain out for so long.  We used to love to hear the rain and we came to dread it because of what it meant for our project.  Today, I loved the rain again.  I painted and hummed to myself while our little guy, up from his nap, played in the sand at my feet.  He didn’t remember the muddy days in the tent, the days on end stuck in a small camper, the panic of rain coming in the new windows because they had been sealed incorrectly the first time, the lost time when the rain pushed back the site work, the concrete, the roof, the septic, the well, etc., etc.  He just knew the rain made mud and it was fun to play in.  He looked up at me when I was almost done and said, “Mama, it is nice to hang out with you- just the two of us, while you are working.  It makes my heart happy”.  Me too, little buddy, me too.

One Day at a Time

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We were laying in bed last night, talking, and I started looking around at our room.  I expressed my continual amazement to my husband that he has built every inch of our house with his own two hands.  He dug the forms for the slab.  He did the foundation.  He built the walls, wired the house, plumbed the house.  He did the drywall, gas lines, lights.  Every single thing that my eyes stop on, he did.  I have a memory of each and every inch,  every added comfort, every moment in time that our lives improved with some added form or function.  Many people have a house built, but not many people build a house.  When you hire a crew, things get done quickly and in the proper order.  Our house has been one upgrade at a time, which has made us appreciate each and every thing that most people take for granted.

When we moved here, we had no comforts.  Life was about as basic as it could ever be.  We washed our clothes in a bucket with a hand plunger-washer.  We upgraded to the laundromat, and now, after almost three years, we have our own washing machine.  We ate in a tent and kept our food in a cooler.  Our laps were the dining room table.  When we moved into the house, we were able to have a card table to eat at.  It took another year to get a proper table and chairs, and eighteen months to get a refrigerator.  After more than two years we upgraded to a proper kitchen sink and kitchen cabinets.  We began our journey with a solar shower, ‘bathroom tent’, and a bucket.  A year and a half in, we took our first showers in the bathroom with a makeshift hot water heater and flushed the toilet for the first time.  We just upgraded to a permanent hot water heater and no longer have to heat the kids bath water on the stove.     We have upgraded based on necessity.  When I could no longer make myself use a cooler as a fridge, we got the power running and received a gift of a fridge.  When we found ourselves tiring of emptying the water bucket and hauling water, we were finally able to get the water running and hook up the plumbing.  It almost seemed as if God gave us the financial resources and means to complete a particular project just as we were reaching the breaking point.  I know that there are going to be amazing lessons in all of this as we continue to look back and remember.  Each and every thing that we have been able to do has not only increased our comfort exponentially, but because it came at a time when we were feeling overwhelmed, we appreciate each step all the more.  We were blessed with a gift of carpet just as I began to worry about the baby having to crawl on subfloor.  I made just enough extra at work to get the washing machine, right when I was feeling like I could not bear the laundromat even one more time.  When our third child was born, I could not stand the thought of coming home to no power or running water.  My husband turned the water on 9 days after she was born, and the power came on a week later.

We are nearing the end of Phase One, and have found ourselves looking back on our journey on a regular basis.  We are both amazed and awed by what we have done here, and how God’s provision has allowed us to not only endure amazing hardship, but use that hardship to appreciate everything that we have.  Sitting on a couch, washing dishes in a sink, keeping food in a fridge, playing with the kids on a carpeted floor, closing a door to separate us from everyone else….these are things we do not take for granted.  We remember each and every painful step to comfort, and it has taught us so much.

The progression of the kitchen and bathroom……..

The living space metamorphoses…….

The kid zone…….

Laundry Day……

We are almost there.  The flooring is waiting to be installed.  The last two doors are on order.  The trim and upstairs carpet will hopefully follow, and then we can begin on the finishing touches to turn it into our home- photos, paintings, bed frame, medicine cabinet, towel rack.  Hopefully we can get finished up just in time for……the addition!

It is hard to believe sometimes that three years have passed.  At the same time, it feels like it has been the longest three years of my life.  As this chapter comes to a close, though, I know that God has been and is with us every step of the way- guiding us, providing for us, and preparing us for the journey ahead.

The Grain Bin

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In typical Dave and Megan fashion, we decided on a bit of a whim to drive 3 hours with the kids to go check out a grain bin on Craigslist. The price was right and it seemed like a good cheap and fast way to get some storage space until we could build a shop.

The reality of doing this with three little kids was a bit overwhelming. We drove up in the evening, spent the night in a hotel, and got up early the next day to meet a friend for the ‘take down’.

 

 

After a dozen phone calls we managed to find someone with grain bin jacks. We picked them up and the boys began the arduous task of dismantling the bin one layer at a time.  I hit the road for the three hour car trip to pick up the trailer. When I came back, things seemed to be moving along!

It took them eight hours to get it down. We finally got home that night at midnight. Tired, dirty, and hoping this was a good idea, we fell into bed.  This project would be so much easier if we just had the ability to build what we needed.  Now we have to pour a slab, put this crazy thing back together, sprayfoam it, and then finally be able to use it for storage.  We certainly do not need another project, but we do need storage and we do need to turn our house into a home without the living room being full of tools.   To quote the five year old when he came downstairs one morning,  “This place is a mess. It looks like a garage in here!”.  Ah, the infinite wisdom and lack of filter…..

Another day in the crazy life at Simbow Farm….

 

How Low Can You Go?

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I am dating myself, but do any of you remember playing limbo on the roller skating rink?  I do!  We were out there roller skating with the lights flashing and the music playing and the announcer yelling, “How low can you go?”.  There was always a line, different for each of us, that meant the difference between rolling smoothly under the limbo stick, or falling on your butt on the rink floor.   I feel like we are in the throes of discovering where our line is and I am not sure that we are skating so smoothly these days.  We are tired of playing the limbo game and we are ready to just be skating across the rink with no more obstacles in our way.

It has been almost two years since we drove onto this property.  Everyone is tired.  We are tired of living in limbo, we are tired of having all our belongings in boxes.  We are tired of having our living room be consumed by power tools.  We are tired of coming home and not being comfortable.  I think the most difficult thing is not knowing when we will be out of this state of limbo and into the comfort of a finished home.  Today we spent most of the day moving back out to the camper.  It makes me tired and anxious to pack things up and move them yet again, even if it is only to move them thirty feet across the yard to the camper.   Tomorrow we will finish clearing out the downstairs so that we can finish the drywall, paint,  get the tongue and groove on the ceiling, and install the rest of the electrical outlets and lights.  We will get a quote for kitchen cabinets and hopefully get them installed by the end of summer.  I am apprehensive.  I do not know how much we will get done and we are both feeling really, really tired.  We need to finish enough by winter that we can stop living in limbo.  I want to unpack.  I want to have my clothes hanging in the closet.  I want to have carpet in the bedrooms.  I want to have a living room that has a couch in it instead of a band saw.  I want to cook on a real stove and use the Coleman Camp Stove for camping, not daily living.  I want to wash a load of laundry after the kids go to bed, not trudge everyone to the Laundromat and have it take all day.

I know that God will work in our lives to teach us to be humble, to be more patient, and to lose our pride, and selfishness.  I know that he wants to be the center of our lives.  I know that we also do not get any more hardship than we can handle, but I am really wondering right now how God knows where my breaking point is, because I feel like I am there.  I pray every day for strength, for stamina, for discernment, for guidance, for hope….. Some days are good, many are not.  Each time I tackle yet another challenge, it gets harder, because I am tired of playing the game!  I keep having to remind myself that we chose this path and it is our path to walk through to the finish line.   Praying and hoping that when we get to the finish, we will still feel like skating.  Joseph is my guide these days, as I think about how long he struggled before he was able to realize the true meaning of his dream and follow it to fruition, and how much loss and heartache he must have felt in the meantime.

Thinking Back on Crazy….

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For some reason today I sat in the house, listening to the rain, and I was reflecting back on the summer we moved here.  What in the world were we thinking?  How did we just drive 1500 miles away from ‘home’ and pull into our field with a cheap Walmart tent and think this was a good plan?  I am not saying that we made a wrong decision, but who does this stuff?  We had a plan, sort of, that consisted of building a house, but we had no idea how the details were going to go.  I just keep thinking back on how if any one thing had gone wrong, it could have been a disaster!  The rain, the mosquitos, the mud, the madness.  I would love to know what the neighbors thought as they heard my sons shrieks from his ‘time-out’ chair in the middle of the field, or what the locals thought of these crazy, homeless people living in a tent with their two little kids.  It rained so much that summer that when we stepped into the tent, it felt like walking on a water bed- with the rain water pooling in between the thick Mississippi clay and the tent bottom.  Our kitchen tent, 300 yards away, never got ransacked by critters, although we both lost 10 pounds each from having to go so far for food (kind of killed the late-night snacking problem).  Our younger son learned to crawl in the tent, and saw the outside world through a mosquito screen.  Our oldest son had to transition from just being potty-trained to using an outhouse and went from a cozy three bedroom house to sharing a 10×20 tent with four people.  I still hear the wind and think about the fear of losing our tent the first week we were here to the 70 mile an hour gusts.  I cannot listen to a thunderstorm without shuddering because of the horror of mud and muck invading our lives.  I cannot slap a mosquito without remembering the clouds that surrounded us everywhere we went. We laugh about it now but it was madness!  We are still a long way from finished and the house is still more construction zone than home, but it is getting there, in slow, steady little steps.  Someday it will be a nice, cozy home, and we will look back on the photos from the beginning and not even remember how crazy it was getting here.

A Quiet Winter

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Our First Winter

Our First Winter

It has been a relatively quiet winter for us after what seemed like a crazy, busy, stress-filled Summer and Autumn. I am not even sure I really remember much of it! We raced to get the house ready for the coming Winter, and work suddenly screeched to a halt as our funds dwindled along with our energy and stamina. We have picked up working again and are almost ready to paint the upstairs, but the list of things still to be done is daunting. We are looking toward Spring with a mixture of excitement and dread- excitement for all the things that we want to happen, and dread for the work that it will take to make them happen! We have had a fair amount of time this Winter to reflect on the past year, and it still amazes me that we have gotten this far with our sanity somewhat intact! We try not to dwell too much on what we find ourselves missing- but we are acutely missing our ‘family’ that we made while in West Virginia. It has been hard here, to carve out a life for ourselves, build a house, and raise two small children without the support of those around us. We feel somewhat isolated and alone, which makes the stress of everything we are doing that much more intense. We take comfort in knowing that when we finally have our home completed, and begin building up our farm, we will have such an amazingly strong and tight-knit family. We also know that once we are back out at our property full-time, we will be able to become more involved in our community. This will help us to begin to build the strong ties that make a place become a home.

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