Building a House Into a Home {A Series}

To be honest I never saw it coming…

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When I was rounder than round with our first baby My Farmer was tearing apart the house that he had grown up in, making changes to it from a design off of a white paper napkin we came up with over dinner. We had just moved to the farm after many years here and there. I left a great Interior Design job knowing I was going to a greater job, to the life that we always knew was coming. Babies and time do that, bring clarity and longing to lay roots. The house began to take shape. It Began to become that which we had envisioned and two weeks after we had our Tall Girl we moved into our “forever” home. I loved so much of it, and as I labored new life into the world My Farmer labored tirelessly to make it habitable and we started our life in a place so familiar and yet so new. That feels like a really long time ago…

We always thought we would do more to the house. We needed a garage and to replace all of the windows and siding. It needed more TLC but we would wait until we knew just what we wanted and time and money would allow for the changes. We were a small little family in a sweet place to call home.

Years went by as they just do. Getting away on us to grow children and farms and ourselves. These are the things of life. But I never forgot about our house, our plans. They were always with me as I played out my days making memories and food, lots of food in “the farm house”. This is just the nature of an Interior Designer, the design is never finished. My ideas and redesigns grew with me as my family grew and I continually hashed out what might work for us and what we should do. But the timing never seemed right. My Farmer had been burnt out on renovating this house and was on to frying bigger fish. We both were in some ways. We added Mini Me to the mix and the four of us forged a beautiful life in a mostly beautiful home.

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We started our first adoption in 2008. We were hopeful for another child and for things to go the way the agency said they would but of course they didn’t and so, 4 years later we welcomed Little Man into our family. We still had enough bedrooms but in the course of those four years God had different plans for us and we jumped onto a completely different path, one that I hadn’t planned for, but fit like a glove. We brought Tall Girl home to school with us her grade 2 year and haven’t looked back.

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It’s in those big moments in life that you feel a shift and you know that things will never be the same and never look like what you had envisioned for yourself or your family and it feels like home. This shift brought a little more angst between me and my sweet house as we added children and we kept them home all day. No garage meant battling the elements a good portion of the year with frozen doors and frozen kids and frozen groceries. Sometimes these things can push you over the edge of sanity and I have had my share of temper tantrums over pick axing ice off of my back bumper so that I can actually get the groceries home. It’s painful and sad to be a grown woman battling the elements when they are winning and it wears on you like a broken record week after week, winter after winter and I was getting itchy for a warm place to park my car. I can tell you I never saw this as my future when I looked into My farmers eyes and said “I do”. I guess that is that part where you say, “for better or worse”. Or cold!

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I began working diligently on a redesign of our sweet house and for two years hashed it out with my friend and Architect Joe Hosek. It was fun and great to re envision our sweet house into more of what we needed and wanted. But My Farmer wasn’t really into it. We hadn’t done the hard work of being on the same page. And at one point My Farmer says to me, ” I think we should just build new if this is going to cost a lot.” What was he thinking? I had spent the better part of seven years redesigning our house and now he wanted to start new! I couldn’t go there with him. This was the first I had heard of it and I wasn’t really open to that line of thinking. THIS was our house, THIS was where we had been forging our family and life.

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I finished up the plans and we began asking our contractor friend about our redesign and kept getting bad news. The cost of building was continuing to go up. He was nervous about how we were going to know what this reno would cost us. He really began to plant a seed of doubt about the feasibility of doing something major to this house. So for the next two years we went back and forth about what to do. For those two years I prayed that God would change me, would make my wants and desires to align with his will and not just that of my imagination. There were hard moments in these years. My Farmer was taking the prudent route and I wanted him to detour onto my fast highway of agendas but that is not the way of good decision making and that is not usually the way God bestows his gifts. I would need to wait and keep waiting and many days I was good with that and many days, I am sad to say, I wasn’t. To relinquish is hard and I had grasped so tightly to this house over the years that it was going to take a crowbar to relinquish this grip. Thankfully My Farmer is steadfast in his resolve of doing the right thing.

As we crept our way to the same page, God was doing so many other works in our lives and we welcomed another little man into our family in October of 2013 by way of adoption. Who cares about a house when your talking babies, but we knew we were going to have to figure something out as we were growing out of our home and needed a change.

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This past winter we diligently worked on all of the pieces of the house puzzle and bent low asking for clarity and like mindedness. This was a hard season for me in many ways. God was on the move, answering prayers and reminding me to take perspective. I think when you have something in your head for so long it’s amazing how very hard it can be to move to the beat of another drum and not control all of the variables along the way. This can be a very difficult place to live, tight, clenched hands over something that frankly isn’t even mine to begin with. And so God slowly helped me to unfurl my hands and my dreams and lay them down so I wouldn’t have to carry those burdens any more and wouldn’t have to dump them on My Farmer any more. These are the reflections in the mirror you could just do with out seeing, but if your willing to look at them, your willing to live fully alive and free and that is where I found my self in March of this year. Shifted, different. Willing to wait a bit more. Willing to let My Farmer lead and that is why I never saw it coming, the building of a new house in a new season, the season of now. With a desperate resolve to keep my hands wide open to receive God’s unbelievable gifts, this is where I sit today, with bare ground waiting for a house to go up to become a home.

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If you can indulge me, I would like to chronicle our journey of building here. So I will hopefully be posting about our process and what it’s like to build a house into a home.

The Making of a House of Love

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I see you girls there making something special for our Valentines Day dinner. Your cutting heart biscuits and I’m thinking about how the whole muck of us makes a house of love.

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How we are so broken and there are days when love feels like its just picked itself up and walked right out the door. And I’m sorry. Those are the days to fall on our knees harder and sometimes we do and sometimes we fall to pride, but I see that in our brokenness our house is being made into a house of love, one fall after another.

There may be short tempers, tears falling, and voices rising. Patience may be in short supply.

Hearts might want to close themselves right up.

Days we all want to run our separate ways and I wonder just how in the world are we building a house of love in the midst of all of this broken and then I see it…

The grace everywhere, the love that comes slowly, stronger, year after year.

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The kind word spoken or sweet deed done. Working together, the compassion for a sister, the closing of mouths, holding of tongues. Saying were sorry.

The flowers for no reason or making breakfast for the brood. We lend a hand, spell a word, or read a book. Our voices lower, our hearts soften and we slowly become a house of love.

DSC_0184This building takes work. This building is Jesus’ work.

It takes dyeing to self and seeking the light and it is becoming lighter even on the darker days.

We set the table. Make the meals. Share the bread. Write love notes to give and come back to the year through.

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This, this is what making a house of love is and I am grateful that His grace is growing here and the hope of love will burn deeper and brighter as He makes His way with us.

We pray for this.

All of us the broken, making our way towards true Love, so we can love… well.

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A Week of Thanks

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The moon has been hanging low outside my kitchen window this week. It has hovered, peaking in my window as if it wants a friend or better, be a friend. It has taken me by surprise, with a smile, each time I go to do the dishes or turn out the lights at night. You would think by day three I would expect it to be there, but in the busyness of the days I forget and then am reminded each evening as we go about our life in the kitchen. By the end of the week it has become a friend that I know won’t be able to stay, at least out my kitchen window. Until next time friend, thank you for your daily company. DSC_0175DSC_0185DSC_0155DSC_0154DSC_0192DSC_0176major smoothie action this week!

DSC_0182Tall girl making dinner! Scallop potatoes.

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IMG_2303Chillin’ with the crew at Chili’s!

~ Wild snow fall making way for a major wind storm

~ Quiet house

~Si reading tractor magazines

~ Kids playing outside for hours

It’s been a week much like many others, but there is always so much to be thankful for especially when your looking…

Have a good weekend friends,

alli

 

The Path to Freedom

So, it’s that time again, time to take stock of all that has been and make plans for what lies ahead. Can I let you in on a little secret? So much of me used to (and still does a bit) dread this time of year. So much of me used to shrink back from goal setting and New Years resolutions, plans to change and become better. There was a time in my life when all of this talk of resolutions and plans screamed failure and hopelessness.

It is going on 7 years now that I found myself in what felt like a comical dream. I sat in a room full of women of all ages, from all walks of life, one by one introducing themselves by first name followed by “and I am a food addict.” It was a bit of an out of body experience where you see yourself and you want to laugh or cry but really the core of your being just found itself at home and you actually heave a big sigh of relief. This may just be the answer to all of the prayers, all of the failed New Year’s resolutions, all of the best-laid plans that eventually fell away to patterns that felt almost beyond my control.

For most of my childhood and young adult hood I battled with weight and food. It was the elephant that was always on my back. Hoping it would turn into a mouse only made things worse and after my second child was born I found myself in the pit of despair.

This had gone from a massive failed New Year’s resolution year after year to something that had completely debilitated my daily life. It was defining me and my days. It was clear that I couldn’t continue on in this way… Follow me @ Itakejoy

New Year’s Slow Dawn

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This week the New Year feels like it’s taking its time to dawn here as we usher family and friends out the door. I have been anticipating for a number of days the “machine” that will begin again soon. We have taken a little break over the holidays from formal schooling and it’s time to get back at it. The activities start up again, and our CC community will start meeting again.

It feels like the pressure has been building a little as I have longed to stay in the moment but also look towards starting our regular life again. I am anxious for our rhythms to resume. There comes a time after Christmas when it’s just time to dive back into the everyday normal.

Can you tell I have some expectations weighing in on the days to come?

But the reality is we are battling sick. Sick kids, sick farmer, new baby, so the week ahead won’t be quite what I had envisioned.

See, I had visions of productivity. Notebooks being filled, pages being read, math being divided. Rooms being cleaned, laundry catching up. Some of this will happen but it’s better to know going into it that it won’t happen as per my visions!

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I love making plans, having ideals, but if I have learned one thing from this season of Advent it is that God came humbly, quietly. He took time to play out His plan for Jesus from birth to the cross and there is much to learn from that part of the story.

To plow ahead with my agenda would only undermined the power of Advent. God is with us, in the beginning, as a newborn child.

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When I want to pack up the last pieces of the Christmas decorations, and put away the Christmas dishes to make way for a New Year, a new plan; I have an urge to not look back but plow ahead to implement the expectations of a new year. It is then that I have to remind myself that He took time to unfold his plan and maybe there is just something to that.

Time…

to evaluate my expectations.

Time…

to make room for the sick child, the putting life back together after much undoing from the holiday celebrating. The piles of laundry…

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day and I have a feeling that neither will my ‘new year’ and all of its new ideas and back to work mantras. Yes, their needs to be rhythm and work and learning but I’m pretty sure its not all going to happen on Monday by 3:00.

Slowing to set the rhythm with consideration of life’s circumstances helps me to not be disappointed by my unmet expectations.

Knowing God is with me reminds me that this life is not for striving and pushing and racing. The ones that get tossed around in that kind of ‘machine’ are my kids and my heart and it hurts.

Expectations can rob the joy that is set before me.

Ideals and values lived into day after day by God’s grace make for a new year, a new plan that hopefully moves with the rhythm of advent, the rhythm of grace and humility; the rhythm of a baby.

Part of me longs to accomplish, but part of me knows there is much to be had when I hang back and let the rhythm take shape from the giver of this New Year.

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The ‘machine’ will pick up again, the books with get opened and the rhythm will find its way back to chores and discipline and laundry getting done but hopefully I will be able to remember Advents rhythm of quiet humility as it looks like this New Year will take a little time to get going.

 

alli

By Faith Not by Sight

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The phone call came on one of those days when I woke up behind schedule. Combines were running hard, The Farmer was running early, his lunch still in the recesses of my brain… we would figure out a way to get it to him later. Some days just seem to scream, “Why can’t you handle your life” and this was one of them.

I had just sat down to try to find a little peace to eat my lunch while my toddler slept; the lunch aftermath awaiting me in the kitchen and my older girls playing outside. It had been a morning that didn’t make me feel on top of the world as a mother. The machine wasn’t moving very smoothly if you know what I mean, which can easily bring my focus off of God’s true purpose for my days and onto my unrealistic expectations instead.

Timely then to get “The” (frankly) unexpected phone call that a Birth Mother in Florida had chosen us to be the forever family for her sweet thing, due in about two, weeks give or a take a few days…

Finish the rest of the story at I take Joy.

What About Time for Rest?

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We are on the cusp of change, whether it’s the season, swapping shorts for jeans and boots or back to school or home school; bouquets of newly sharpened pencils await many of us.

The long days of summer filled with swimming, BBQ’s and campfires will give way, or have already, to rhythms and plans; schedules that form our days. With these changes come expectations, not only from us but from many other sources as well.

I don’t know about you but as I have gotten older and my kids have gotten older I heave a sigh of relief when the days become more rhythmic and we get into a groove of inching our way through goals and dreams; Being involved in weekly or monthly life giving things that the kids and I enjoy.

The toddler years were great but they can feel like an endless sea of summer days. I have learned over the years the value of rhythm, although I wish I could say I always live my life out of that place.

Even though I look forward to fall and back to “business” I sometimes wonder what it’s all for. These schedules we fill. The lessons, the sports, community groups, church groups, bible studies and the million things you could fill in the blank with.
With each new year I look at our “doings” and think, “Are we trying to learn it all in one year? Do we think this is our only shot?” Because sometimes the calendar gets so full that there isn’t one little bit of margin.

Richard Swenson, author of the book Margin says, “Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. He says, “Today we use margin in our lives just to get by.” ….Please follow me at Momheart today

Inspired by Friendship

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A couple of years ago I started a mom heart group, gathering together what might be considered an eclectic, small group of women that I thought might be interested in walking a little deeper road of life with me.

We meet once a month during the winter months, eat a beautiful potluck meal together and then have a time of study and discussion. We usually end up being at my house for about 5 or 6 hours! It’s a big commitment really for moms with thriving, active families but it is a really wonderful time of sharing, learning and getting to know one another.

There are only 8 of us. Some are younger on the journey and some have more experience with the journey but I think that makes it rich and lovely and I love these women.

We don’t all go to the same church. We don’t all live technically in the same communities, but what I have gained from each one of them is so valuable and life giving.

We don’t always see one another between our meetings but when we do, weather its planned or a surprise gift that is what it is, gift.

Many of these women have either grown up on a farm or have lived “it” long enough that they intrigue me with their knowledge about all kinds of things that I know nothing about. I love learning about what each woman loves to do, what they are good at, what they think they aren’t good at and really are!

I love that they are all mama’s who uniquely live out their devotion and commitment to their families and communities day in and day out.

They inspire me.

Recently I decided that the kids and I were going to take this gardening thing a little more seriously! Ha! I figured it would be better to go with the grain on this one and take advantage of the opportunity we have right outside of our kitchen door…

Read the rest at Mom Heart today?…

alli

Feeding the Farmer

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What do you feed the farmer who feeds the world?

This is what I think about when I stack sandwiches and bake banana bread.

When the wind blows relentless and men are black with dirt and hard work.

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What fills them-us, when days are too long? When they have out run the hamster on the wheel.

As Ann Voskamp say’s, “ Time is a relentless river.” And some days, in the fields, it feels like your running in slow motion along the bank.

The hope of July’s fields blowing with ripening wheat are a whisper on your tongue as the calendar screams deeper double digits that no one around here wants to mention.

It’s the way here, every year.

The faith it takes to put these seeds in the ground with optimism always blows my mind. You have to be cut from a certain cloth for this risk, this trust.

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And yet I get it. Over the years it becomes you. The excitement of another gamble, of another season on your knees. This is a thin place, where the dust and the big sky merge to open heaven for the grace to finish the last field no matter the date, no matter the battle.

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Each year has its own story of fight and struggle – joy and victory. When all the fields are done and the seeds are growing inches by the minuet, part of me wonders why we keep coming back for more. Yet somehow to be this close to God’s rhythm, natures plan, makes it all worth it.

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No sandwich-no matter how gourmet, or home baked goodie- no matter how delicious is going to get you through these never ending days. To weather these days well, prayers are muttered under breath, over food, over tractors heaped in dust.

Doesn’t it say in Philippians, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”?

I love THIS part…

“Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

- Tractors back up and running
- The sound of rain when the head finally hits the pillow
- All limbs accounted for
- Canola just starting to get planted (hard eucharisteo) …

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hears and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLV

No matter the season, no matter the pressure or what’s on the line, we always have a choice.

We choose how to respond to our days, the ones that go along with our to do lists easily and the ones that just about suck the life out of you.

We can choose to look up- whisper prayers, beg for what we need, list the eucharisteo, and experience grace in the form of peace that helps us to remember why we love this farming gig. (Did I say that out loud! ☺)

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Oh, I will still make food and bake for these crazy guys but I’m no fool, I know this will only take all of us so far…

 

alli

Unfurling…

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It has taken spring a little longer to find its way here in the great white North! But these last few days we have been blessed by the appearance of green grass and budding leaves- ponds that ripple with ducks landing and spring breezes.

It is almost as if it has taken us by surprise and we are breathing sighs of relief to feel the heat of the sun and the new life unfolding all around the farm. As if nature had been forced to lie dormant for so long that it had secrets it had been keeping. Plans that had been quietly unfurling that would one day, all of a sudden take form and shape and surprise us all with their lavish transformations.

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When my mama, the kids and I were out enjoying the spectacle, anticipating all that is still to come I wondered, what are the secret plans God has been forming in my heart, in my life, that I might not even be aware of? What surprises are waiting for me to unfurl, to notice, and to be awestruck by?

This… the change of season, it brings new things and I lean in a little closer to hear God’s heart beat for me, to catch a glimpse of the spectacle that he is crafting; the growth that he is instigating. By his grace may I slow enough to enter his current, embrace what he is doing in me this season?

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For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

alli