The View From My Backyard
For years I’ve had a dream. It’s a vision in my head of what I wanted my life to look like at this stage. It’s a fairly common dream, really, especially since Chip & Joanna have repopularized white farmhouses and baby goats. It involves a charming refurbished farm style home in some to-die-for setting. I imagine a view from my back porch that stretches out for miles. There are rolling green hills and wraparound porches, wildflowers and farm animals and golden retrievers, and life is just a little bit sweeter there.
But in my dream it’s not just my husband, Darron, and myself dwelling in the land. I picture a mountainside (or a valley) with a scattering of cute little houses, inhabited by our kids and grandkids and closest friends.
The dream is ultimately about living in community… coming together often for meals, communion, gardening, investing in children not born to us and sticking together through the highs and lows, the way I envision our ancestors doing back in the day.
Over the past few years, Darron & I have been on a mission to find the perfect spot to build this community. Taking seriously our God-given assignment to be cultivators and culture shapers (one I believe we’ve all been given), we have designed house plans, researched pocket neighborhoods and community farming and organic gardening, created budgets and vision statements and spent countless hours searching for just the right plot of land. Several times we thought we had found it. We made offers and negotiated contracts, but it fell through EVERY single time.
Meanwhile we’ve been living in the bungalow on Ash Street, a 2-bedroom 1920s Craftsman that was intended to be our temporary solution at downsizing during the 2009 economic fiasco. This was part of God’s pruning plan for us 7 years ago, the cutting away of excess so we might bear more fruit for Him. It’s a cute house; we just never saw it as much more than a stopping off place until we could get back to some acreage and our “dream house” in the country.
The house we moved from was the house we raised our kids in. The house we designed and built on several acres in a rural community. We thought it was our forever home. Until the economy came crashing down and Darron’s architectural business slowed to a crawl and we realized our forever home doesn’t exist on this earth. We’re just travelers passing through. Our forever home is being built by the Master Carpenter in a place so beautiful, no heart can imagine.
But that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming and searching.
Last summer, after our latest property chase came to a crashing halt, our next door neighbor happened to mention that he was fixing his place up to sell. His house was a small 2bdrm built in 1945. It needed some work but it sounded intriguing and we were up for the task. Alyssa, Matt, and Cyrus were chomping at the bit to find a home of their own that was not our guest bedroom. They told us, “If you’ll buy it, we’ll help with the renovations and rent it from you.”
Suddenly, everywhere I looked it sounded like God was saying “Start where you are.” One morning last July, in the midst of all of this, I opened my Savor devotional book by Shauna Neiquist and read these words:
Sometimes a new sense of possibility is found practically in your own backyard, viewed for the first time from a new vantage point.
Long story short, we bought the house. Had a ton of fun reclaiming some of its original woodwork and charm. Alyssa, Matt and Cyrus moved in. I am a blessed woman.
And in January of this year, the Lord saw fit to drop another pleasant surprise literally into my backyard when our dear friends Amber and Toby and their girls moved into the house right behind ours.
Now our yards all intersect at a central “gathering place”. We are being intentional about sharing life. What’s more, we are surrounded by lovely neighbors and good friends on all sides. We are getting to know neighbors we had never met before.
Now I sit on my back porch and thank God for the most incredible view. Not exactly the rolling hills and land that stretches for miles as I envision in my dream. But in many ways so much richer. It’s Sophie and Izzie playing softball with the neighborhood kids. It’s my grandson, Cyrus, pushing around his little red firetruck as he’s learning to walk, Alyssa right by his side. It’s the men working together to build the chicken run I fell in love with on pinterest. It’s Amber watering the garden. Some nights it’s Jarod and Matt playing guitars and friends around the firepit.
I could have missed this view in my pursuit of something “better”. Sometimes we just have to get still long enough to open our eyes to the beauty in our own backyards.