When Shaun first floated the idea of our building another house from scratch by me–oh–3ish years ago, I was initially very resistant. I thought he was crazy. At that point, we were only 5 years removed from our first building experience, which, while successful and not nearly as stressful as you might imagine for doing it all ourselves, was a LOT of work. Plus, at that point, I had 1-year-old twins, was pregnant with Theo, and was homeschooling 3 other fairly small children, and it all just sounded…hard.
I mean, what was wrong with our current house? Short answer: nothing. And that still holds true. It’s a great house! And we love it! But Shaun just kept his eye open for land, checking out different email alerts as they came through. None in our price range were that tempting, though. Usually, if the land was a good deal, it was located across from a rundown mobile home park or had little privacy or was designated by more than half as a flood plain.
But then, this property in a little community 10 minutes from us popped up one day. The price for the area (which is growing rapidly and shooting up practically daily in price) was fantastic. And, after checking out the land, Shaun was optimistic. So, I went out and had a look. And, from the moment that I drove down the first long stretch of “driveway” and it opened up into a verdant bowl surrounded by layer upon layer of trees that climbed ever higher up a steep hill that curved around the edge of the property like a big green hug, I knew it had potential. Lots of potential. Plus, it was 10 minutes closer to the town to which we drive almost daily.
This is going to sound strange–especially since I can’t completely put my finger on what made these words pop into my mind–but when I first saw the property, I thought: “Jurassic Park.” Something about the bowl-like park feel to the center section, and the intense greenness of everything surrounding it. Thankfully, minus giant carnivorous reptiles.
And so the story of what I have hashtagged on social media #mifmbuildsagain began.
And it’s no short story. Instead, it’s a bit more like a War and Peace length tome. We bought the land 2 years ago in February, and we’ve been plugging away at either prepping it for the new house or actually building it ever since. In some ways, the process has been similar to our first build as Shaun (and often his dad) have done everything from clearing to framing (so. much. framing) to siding to electrical to plumbing, and so much more. And I have held down the fort at home and hunted for deals on everything from ceiling fans to shower heads.
In other ways, it’s felt different. The pace is much slower. The house is bigger. And even though Shaun has worked almost every single weekend (Saturday, at least) since the beginnning, I don’t feel like I never see him like I did the first go-round. Also, I have more specific architectural things in mind that I have time to hunt down (my favorite details of the house so far are several vintage doors and that giant carved post thingy that I blogged about a while back).
We have 3 and 1/2 times as many kids this go-round, and pretty soon, the kids and I will get to take a more active roll in some of the finishing chores (like caulking, puttying, sanding, cleaning, painting, staining, etc.). And the boys (and even Della) have already spent many a Saturday hauling trash, carrying boards, and vacuuming sawdust. It’s been a family effort, for sure. (Although to say that Shaun and his dad have done the lion’s share of the manual labor would be the world’s biggest understatement). I am happy that my older kids will get to look back on this process and remember what it was like to contribute and get their hands dirty.
And then, for the last 6 weeks, the focus has shifted from the new house to our getting our current one ready to sell–as I’ve already mentioned. (Our house was already sold, and we were renting from my parents while building our first house).
Which brings us to now. We have 3 months left before the new house is move-in ready (we hope), but we decided to go ahead and list our current house because interest rates for loans are rising, and the spring (with the end of the school year) is when so many people are looking to move.
We debated whether to engage a realtor or just try to sell it on our own to begin with, but when a friend recommended a realtor who works for an extremely reasonable flat rate fee, it seemed like a no-brainer to let her take care of the showings.
Plus, if we had contact with the buyer before we signed with her, and they didn’t have a buying agent, we wouldn’t have to pay that 3%. Score!
So, I announced it here on the blog and on social media and proceeded to spend a couple of days fielding over 50 messages (I just about wore out the “copy + paste” combo on my keyboard).
One of those messages came through my Facebook page (for the blog), and before I knew it or we had even signed anything with a realtor, Shaun and I were showing Jessica, her husband, Scott, and their 4 cute kids around our house.
That showing went well, but, since they’d had to come after dark, they decided to schedule another one for the following Tuesday during the day. We went ahead and signed with our realtor, and the MLS listing went live on Monday night. But I held off sharing it anywhere in hopes that Jessica’s family would want to buy it. I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that I “had a feeling,” but…I had a feeling.
And peace. Always perfect peace. I didn’t know what would happen or how long our house would take to sell, but I didn’t feel anxious about it at all, and I was already so grateful for the Lord’s guarding my heart against unnecessary stress.
For over a year, we’ve been praying that the Lord would bring the perfect family to buy our house. That they would be as blessed by living on our beautiful property as we have been and that they would fully enjoy all of the love and sweat we’ve poured into our home.
On Wednesday, I texted Jessica and asked what they thought of the property, and she said they loved it (well, actually, what she said was that they LOVED it!!!). Scott was just waiting on confirmation from the Lord that this was the direction for their family, since they hadn’t even been actively looking for a new place to live when they saw my Facebook announcement.
Turns out, Jessica hadn’t been a blog-reader (as I had assumed) but had simply seen the post shared or commented on (she couldn’t remember which) by a friend and decided to at least get more information, since they’ve had their eye out for property in the country (at least casually) for a while.
I mentioned in a post last week that, when they came that first night, Jessica and I had kind of danced around the idea of their buying the house fully furnished (after she joked about my needing to come decorate for her if she bought it, and I basically said, “Um, I think I already did”). So, on the following Thursday (this past one), when she texted to ask if they could come over to discuss the furniture situation, I was hopeful. So hopeful. But still not anxious.
We invited them for lunch on Friday, and we had a lovely time eating on the back patio, swapping backgrounds, and watching the kids play with our kittens.
And then, while I mixed up a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen, we got down to business. Ultimately, they decided to buy our house, fully furnished, for a little less than our original asking price. Which we were thrilled with since a) we didn’t have to show the house anymore b) they weren’t bringing a buyer’s agent, so we didn’t automatically lose that 3%, and c) we now don’t have to move practically any furniture.
In other words, our house sold in one week to the first and only people who looked at it for a great price, and the buyers are keeping everything from the rugs to the curtains to the sofas.
To say that I am flabbergasted by God’s lavish goodness is barely a drop in the deluge of gratitude and thanksgiving that has been washing over my heart these past few days. Elation. Joy. Celebration. Wonder. It’s all there.
And then, as if to further emphasize that it was He who was orchestrating this deal, they told us that the only furniture they didn’t need was the girls’ bunk beds, which I had been hoping to keep so that I could give them to my mom (since she keeps our kids so regularly).
Not only that, but they decided to buy our tractor (yep, we have a tractor…but will no longer need it, since the new property has considerably less mowing than our current one) as well.
Not only THAT, but they want to keep 4 of the 6 kittens, which means one (or technically 4) less thing(s) to try to find a home for. (Scott even jokingly included some “official” language about the kittens in his letter to our realtor).
Ultimately, every concern that we had about our house being a hard sell–the location (it’s a little ways out), the amount of land (27 acres), the school district (not so great), and the uniqueness of the house (we love it, but we made it to our specifications, without ever really intending to sell) were overcome by the Lord’s doing precisely what we had asked: bringing the perfect family for whom none of those considerations mattered (their children go to a private school; they wanted to be in the country with lots of acreage; and they think our house’s “quirks” are awesome) and who love our home as much as we do.
As far as the furnishings, I’ve had several people ask me how I could let go of so many things that are special to me. But honestly? Even though almost every piece in our house has a story that usually involves finding an amazing deal on it and then strapping it down in our van amidst a passel of kids, I’m not particularly attached to any of it. The only diehards for me were the pipe shelf Shaun made me for Valentine’s and the chest he made me before we were even married that now sits at the foot of our bed and holds all of our favorite sentimental mementos.
The rest? It’s just stuff. Which I am learning to hold more and more loosely. Especially when it means I don’t have to load it up and move it.
But wait. Didn’t I say that we wouldn’t be done with our house for 3 months? Where are we going to LIVE?!
Turns out, God already had that in hand too (no surprise there). One of our rental houses just came open, so we’ll move into it in about a month and sort of “camp out” there (think: mattresses on the floor and clothes in a suitcase) for 6 weeks or so. It’s only 1,500 square feet, so we’ll be on top of each other a bit, but I’m almost looking forward to the simplicity of it while we focus on finishing the new house. (And, as one of my gym members pointed out, “You’ll never have to wonder where your kids are.” Indeed not).
I know this is long, but I wanted to type all of this out as a testament to the Lord’s incredibly gracious provision in our lives in this whole building (and now selling) process. And so that I can look back and say, “See, what our good God did!” I am wary to declare how “blessed” I am when things go my way because I know that, often, the Lord’s blessing manifests itself through hardships.
But neither do I want to skimp on praising him for his love and incredible attention to detail in our lives. Every good and perfect gift comes from him, and I couldn’t have imagined a better or more perfect gift for this tired mama of many than to not have to show my house a gajillion times. Even if I’d shown it a gajillion and one, he would still be just as good and loving. But I am so grateful that he saw fit to let me off that hook.
Thank you yet again for your love and prayers through this process. I have felt them. And I am grateful for them and you.