Summer, Children, House Update

I love gathering pictures for this type of post: one that simply documents a slice of time for our family and the progress of our home. Today marks the 3rd anniversary of that famous day at the Jackson County Courthouse steps, so I spent the day with my camera in hand to mark the day.

This summer has been sweetly slow and full of sweet memories. Baseball is a big part of each summer for us, a thing we all enjoy and even though the season is over we still get out there in the evening and throw the ball. We're grateful for a fun and growing season for both boys. Benjamin's coach said last night, "Ben became quite the slugger this year. And that bunt. We'll always remember that epic bunt."  Ben, it's true, you rocked it. Even though it wasn't allowed and you got called out, you rocked that thing! 

As for a house update, we're still plodding along, at our own pace with all the things. I sometimes wince thinking about what others think, but right now, in this moment, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for every single thing that these images represent.

I will not sugar-coat it though. It's harder than I thought it would be. All I know is that I pray to God every day that we would not "gain the world and loose our souls" -- that we would not forget the grace of God that has softened every criticism and strengthened our faith in him for both the material part of it all and the spiritual. 

I haven't done a good job of updating with the specifics of work done on the house, hence this detailed post (thanks for the nudge, Cass!). It's not Chip and Joanna over here, ya'll. It's life lived and meals made and butts wiped, with sawdust and chickens all around. It's messy and sweet, loud and yet the quiet life that we adore. 

But, we have done some things to make it what it will be: 

Last summer, we gutted the future kitchen by removing all the old plaster from the ceilings and walls. Luke fixed a bunch of electrical issues and brought the wiring up to code. He's removed old chimneys, sealed existing chimneys, installed a wood burning stove, took a few birds out of our bedroom wall (lol), replaced master bathroom sink, replaced main bathroom sink and toilet and subflooring. I kind of settled on a dining room (current kitchen) color, "Americana Egg" -- a sweet little nod to my green-egg laying chicken out there.  

Doors! We have a thing for old wooden doors that match the house and we have been blessed to find a few winners at our local Habitat Restore shops. We hung one for our bathroom, the stairway/attic door, and a downstairs bedroom. He also built one from scratch recently for the toy closet upstairs, all for his girl Anna, who was scared of the dark hole that was within sight at night at bedtime.  

This toy closet door is special to me. It still needs a knob, and we're thinking about painting it white, but it represents something that often is lost on us, or that we forget is essential to this whole process. Sometimes the big projects are actually not as important as meeting little needs and closing up scary holes for little girls. I'll always remember that afternoon when Luke said, "I need to knock out Anna's door. It won't take me long." This is the stuff life is made of and I don't want to miss it because I'm impatient about bigger things. 

This month we've tackled the main living space in effort to get the homeschool space up to snuff for the fall. I dream of the day when all of Luke's theological library is under our roof and out of storage, and when all of our schooling books are organized and easily accessible. I intend to paint the walls an off-white which motivated the over-due repair to the ceilings. For the past several weeks we've nibbled away at patching and painting the ceilings (sometimes after kids are in bed). We will soon have either Billy bookcases from IKEA or built-ins if Luke gets involved (lol). He's threatening to get involved! I'm often found with ceiling paint on my elbows, but I love that I can finish something I started three years ago when I scraped all that dang popcorn off! We're grateful for old plaster that didn't need anything more than patch and paint (no drywall).

As far as outside, Luke patched the front stoop and steps and took out an old chain link fence from out front so I could start working on my "island" garden bed. We are still in the planning stages for a fence installation along the front of our property and re-directing the circle driveway. About a month ago we were victims of major theft on our vehicles, rendering Luke's truck inoperable, so we're working to get cameras installed and the front of the property more secure. 

Even though that was a setback, we see it all as work, and good work toward our end goal. We're counting our blessings that we still have one operating vehicle and that we're all safe and the perp didn't come inside the house. 

Speaking of garden, we put in flowers out front and I tried my not-so-green thumb at straw bale gardening out back. Though our patch out in the field seems to do better and I'm just going to sow into the ground next year. The bales are falling over now with almost-ready tomatoes and cucumbers for pickling. We didn't do much out in the field plot but have been successful with heirloom bush beans and a butternut squash vine from Rebekah's beautiful garden out at Fairhaven. Watermelon and acorn squash are still yet to come in the straw bales. And Luke's fruit trees are growing beautifully!

Another update is that my dear husband got me chickens for my 40th birthday. I mark these baby chicks' age by the first week of April, so we're getting close to laying age! The children have learned so much about caring for a flock and we're all so very excited to eat our very own eggs in a few weeks. 

The kitchen is the big thing and the thing that obviously costs the most and it's something that we have to just nibble at on the weekends. After gutting it last year and fixing the electrical we found a steal of a deal on the FB Marketplace for foam insulation. It was nearly free and we'll be able to insulate the whole house eventually with this hoard:

Sometime after Luke started insulating the kitchen and began framing the window above the sink, we noticed water coming in along the flooring by the sliding glass door from all that wonderful spring rain. This door was next on the removal and framing schedule, as we intend to replace it with a beautiful picture frame window (another Restore find), but the subflooring along the back of the house is now all rotted out. In order to move forward with the framing of the windows and door for the kitchen, we've had to pause and focus on the structural work on the deck and back wall of the kitchen. I'm never surprised at one project morphing into another. We've all learned to accept that as part of how this lifestyle works. It takes gratitude, flexibility, and joy in the process not just the end goal.

So on to the deck! Both big boys helped Daddy with hats and drills remove the deck this summer. It was sweet to see all three of my guys pulling screws out and jamming to classic rock in the sunshine, balancing on boards and learning life lessons. So now the deck project will be the main thing for awhile. 

I have to remind myself almost daily of where this began and of our priorities. Luke and I wanted to be free of a mortgage payment for many reasons, but one of the main reason was the desire to live on one income and raise kids independently of the public school system. I've had to calibrate back to those priorities several times in the last few years and I imagine I'll have to continue to do so for many years to come. One thing I'm sure of, though, is that this home, like the people who live inside are more than just works in progress. It/they are treasures and worth every hardship and our full commitment. When God calls you to something, you stick to it and him with everything you've got.

You can't waver in fear take your eyes off the prize, or the Lord for that matter. It's so dang hard but I praise God for his sanctifying work in our life and the sweet graces that we've experienced with this taste of "lower living." We will fight for it all and keep at it for the glory of God and for these dear children. Please pray for strength for Luke as he works all.the.time. at all.the.things. Pray for my heart to rest in contentment about the pace of things and meekness to love my husband and children well in every season. Pray for the kids, that despite all the struggles they will see the fruits of  love, hard work, and joy in all of this.

With love!

All of Us


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