Thursday, May 2, 2013


The first summer in our home, 2003.

"Where we love is 
Home that feet may leave 
but not our hearts." 
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

When Jeff first pulled up to the house we would call home I asked him to take me to the backyard. Surely I could handle any condition the house was in if it had a good backyard.  Luke, five months old, squirmed in my arms.  The back yard had old dog pens, half formed fences, rusted and sagging.  I counted four old clothes line poles, the wire connecting the poles long gone.  And then, I hesitantly scanned the ground.  Mounds of loose trash formed into reckless piles.  An old engine and sink laid near the edge of the tree line.  I looked further and saw old diapers, ketchup packets, broken glass, and wires tangled in the knee high weeds.  Jeff saw me, eyes fixed on a large mint green trailer, and explained how some old cars had already been towed out for us.  That the group of people had been living for awhile in this house without water or electricity.  The house went through foreclosure and then was emptied of the people, just not their trash.  I looked over at the diapers and my stomach turned trying to imagine a small child in this filth.  There were deep grooves in the earth around the house where Shirley, our neighbor, told us that the previous tenants would get drunk and drive their car around the yard.  They would honk and knock on her door late into the night.  She was just starting to adjust to living alone at that point.  Just starting to pray for new neighbors.  We had two months to turn the house into a home.  Two months of taking countless truck loads of trash, gutting the inside filth and painting a new beginning.

 If I stood in the center of the backyard and just looked up at the changing leaves my stomach would stop turning and I would breath deep the possibilities of Jeff's vision for what would become. 

And we did it.  Well, mostly Jeff did it.  Long nights and full weekends.  Help from friends and family.  The house became a home in mid December, 2003.

The last summer in our home, 2013.
On an cool April night in 2008 we had to leave our home without shoes and carrying out the boys.  An electrical attic fire left us in the driveway, placing sleeping boys in the van as we called 911.  Shirley rushed over pressing a fifty dollar bill in my hand and with prayers on her lips.  Five fire engines came with lights and sirens as the roof burned.  We lost the roof, that was it, the rest was just smoke and water damage.  Luke and Levi were five and three. We lived six months in a rental.  A big house in a big neighborhood. Everything we had was not ours.  Rented in a package that all matched.  Toys, drawings, books, and furniture; all thrown out, cleaned, or stored until we could move back home.  Young life guys helped with the demolition.  Me shouting from the back yard to be careful as they yielded sledge hammers and created black dust.  Jeff and his brother's construction crew rebuilt and added an upstairs in those summer months.  The boys would catch frogs and sing Bob the builder as they watched them work.  We came home in October to a different house. The memories and backyard stayed the same.

The backyard that raised my boys.
We still lay down in the backyard and look up at the green leaves against the blue and talk about how God protected and provided for us through the fire.  Even before the fire.  This home has become a symbol of His provision in so many ways.  When Jeff and I moved in this home half finished we did not know we would stay all these years.  We didn't know it was exactly 3/4 a mile from the school our boys would grow, laugh, and learn in.  We didn't know the U-shaped drive would be perfect for all those hesitant new high school drivers that would pull in for visits.  We didn't know our back yard would become a sanctuary from the exhausting pace of a life poured out.  Where bare feet would run in wet grass soaking up every ounce of sun in a day.  And we didn't know the friend in Shirley yet, or the bigger house we would get two years before Ian was born.  Luke still proclaims that the fire happened because God knew our family was about to grow.  The memories made outside and in.  And yet, it all happened.  I cannot tell you how many times in this last year that I have thought of these things and it has encouraged me.  To leave what we love and know and move on to something completely new and unknown.  To rest in knowing that He took care of it all back then.  When we bought the wreckage and slowly saw it become a home.  I look back and see our God providing and protecting time and time again.  And I know that same God will go before us and with us to Basque.  In a small apartment without a yard, through wreckage or fire, I can trust Him.  These five sets of  feet are about to leave our first home, with that knowledge deep in our hearts.

But as it is written,
"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those 
who love him."
1 Corinthians 2:9