"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12)
Hope deferred - oh how long we've been praying and hoping for the next step for our family! It was early winter of 2017 when we both felt the nudge to reevaluate our home and work and rhythms. We were comfortable - Amos was a year-and-a-half old, and so sweet, and we'd gotten comfortable as parents. Comfortable in our work, in how we operated day-to-day. Our home renovation projects were finished, we were enjoying the fruits of our (just kidding - Brad's) labor. We were in a groove, work was going well, and things felt steady. Apparently steady meant it was time to shake things up - time to dream, to move, to plan something new. We had energy and dreams and took that long, slow winter to pray and seek a plan for the future.
I'll never forget the morning we got out, just the two of us, to our favorite local coffee shop. Journals and calendars in hand, we chatted for hours about what we wanted our family and work to look life. Many things were discussed, but our talk ended with the agreement that it made most sense for our personality types, our careers, and our family values to work from home, together, on-site. Collaborating daily in person instead of commuting back and forth to a downtown workspace. Having more flexibility in the hours we work, sneaking in projects here and there, walking outside and down the driveway with a baby monitor to be productive instead of shuttling back and forth, back and forth - hauling toddlers and carseats and diaper bags and snacks - in a car, up the steps, to the studio - and hauling them back out, rushing home for nap time. Since the babies were born I've worked from our current home, in the corner of our sunroom off the kitchen, which has been a blessing and curse. I'm open and available and "present" all the time for my family - but also distracted with work and paintings and papers strewn about, always working, always stressed because trying to get focused and creative work done while toddler lunches and kinetic sand and finger paintings take place around me has proven impossible. Our setup was lovely when Amos was an infant who napped in my lap and sat happily in a bouncer seat next to me while I designed. But we've reached a new stage of life and with it comes new needs for childcare, for private spaces, for distance between work and family. Distance, but nothing too far - just the closed door of an at-home office, or the simple paces down a winding driveway to a workshop and office - where we can work but still be near.
We agreed on this vision, were invigorated by it, and committed to making it happen. We could eliminate our commute! We could take turns with childcare - here, take the monitor - the kids are asleep! We dreamed hard about a home where this could happen. But our needs were specific, and as we sought out options, they seemed to dwindle before our eyes. We looked and looked, desperately, and nothing came on the market. We started doubting our dreams and questioning the confirmation we'd felt to pursue this. We looked here and there, near and far - and still, nothing felt right. Winter faded, Spring and Fall came and went. We found land, considered building this vision from scratch, but it didn't work out. Winter came, a baby was born! - and still no changes. We grew weary with our search, with our never-ending prayers. We were tired of giving vague answers to people asking if we were moving anytime soon. Who knows?! Maybe we'll never find our next home! But maybe, just maybe, we hoped - it's out there somewhere.
We finally gave up hope of finding a home we loved on a property we loved with a detached workshop where we could run our business. It was too much to ask! We began looking elsewhere, and exploring other options. But nothing felt right, and the pieces just weren't lining up. I can share, vulnerably, that many tears were shed while we waited and grew frustrated - frustrated with how our family and work seemed to be outpacing the physical spaces we occupied. We had been intentionally saving for over a year, ready to make a move - and instead we sat. Dreams and resources and plans sat, stale, waiting for an opportunity to move and it didn't happen.
And then we said "enough!" - we sold our house. It was a whirlwind decision, but we leapt out in faith and put it on the market, contingent that we would move and find a place to live. It was the one thing we did have control of in the moment, while we waited. It was a small step forward, and looking back I don't know what we were thinking - but we cleaned it up and photographed it and it was done. Our house sold in 48 hours and then I couldn't grapple with leaving this beautiful place we'd called Home for three years and stepping into the unknown. It was all just too much.
And then - suddenly - the right place came up. The right home, in the right spot, on the right land, with the right kind of separate workshop with an office attached to it. It was too good to be true, and we booked the first showing available and made an offer that day. We held our breath while they accepted our offer, while the house was inspected and appraised, while all of the days ticked by - those fragile days when anything can happen, when anything can fall through at the smallest change. I didn't believe we'd possibly get this new home, until today - today when we signed the papers and took possession of it. A new home! And with it, new plans and dreams and visions. New memories to be made, a new corner of the Earth to explore and memorize and make our own.
I am slow with change, often resistant to it, but also resigned to the truth my father would often remind me - "The only thing constant is change." So I'm embracing it - the opportunity for newness, for starting over, for an entire shake-up of our life. We will begin again with making this house our home. I'll list out projects for Brad, he'll knock them out over time, and we'll literally pour blood, sweat, and tears into this new place. We have to keep reminding Amos that he gets to bring everything with him - his stuffed animals, his cars, his bed and blankets, his books, and also his mom and dad, his sister, his dog. Some things we'll say goodbye to - like the bunnies and cardinals who inhabit the land just outside our windows. The field of daffodils that bloom in the backyard each Spring and bring hope of warmer days. Goodbye to the dogs who walk by our front yard daily, to the neighbors who have become a dear part of our lives, to the woods behind our home where we've watched deer graze and raccoons be born and flowers bloom and trees fall and become an outdoor playscape. Goodbye to the tulips and trees and peony bushes we planted out front - to the roots we put down, physically and metaphorically, and together we say hello to our new home and all that will grow and flourish there.
This home has seen love - love poured out on every surface, in the way that Brad cut and laid each piece of white oak hardwood that line the floors, while I whitewashed them on my hands and knees at 7 months pregnant. Friends and family came and helped us paint the walls every shade of white and gray, and each left a piece of their handiwork behind. We turned a 1950's office into our master bedroom with a black brick fireplace and woke up each morning to enormous corner windows that looked out into the woods behind our home, a mural of green that turned to gold and sienna in the autumn, and a monochromatic snowscape in the winter. Seasons changed before our eyes, as babies came home and grew from newborn boy to toddler boy, newborn baby girl to suddenly-sitting-up-on-her-own baby girl. Brad refinished the original wood floors in Amos's room, and we put new windows in so we could open them and let a fresh breeze flow through. We painted the original built-ins so that he'd have the prettiest white drawers for storing toys and puzzles and stuffed animals. Brad redid every inch of the bathroom - tiling in a shower for us, and a separate tub for Amos - which was the setting for nightly bubble baths and too many hilarious family memories to keep track of. We first cut his blonde locks off in that bathroom, tried to potty train (still working on that), watched my baby bump grow in the mirror Brad made, and then before I knew it, we were giving that tiny baby girl her first bath in the sink right below the mirror.
I never felt as materialistic as I do now, suddenly rooted to the physical things around me - not because of their material value - but because they were the setting of my most precious memories. These walls hold many stories and songs, prayers and moments of laughter and intimacy and joy and growth. I could be sad to say goodbye, or I could step into our next home with excitement and anticipation at the memories we'll make in this new place. The ways we'll change and grow into these new walls, the way we'll add our own touch and love to the surfaces and floors of this new house. We'll host more guests, have more cookouts and holiday parties, we'll play games on the floor with the kids just as we do now. Penelope will take her first steps in this home, Brad and I will rock together on the front porch, watching the kids play in the creek below. Amos will camp for the first time by the pond, under the evergreens, and we'll help him hook his first fish in the water and build a fire out back. Our piano comes with us, we'll keep singing songs. Our couch and books come, we'll sit under the same throw blankets and watch the same movies, and all will be well. And we'll remind ourselves that our home is not here in this world - it's not something we'll ever really find this side of Heaven - but we are committed to finding beauty and carving out a place for peace in the meantime. While we hold our children and invite others in and enjoy a new home, and workshop, and 15 acres of God's creation outside and all around us, we won't find Heaven, but we'll get pretty close.
We'll see that Proverb come to life - hope, deferred - but enduring and persevering. And the answer to those prayers and dreams, coming to fruition in the shape of new opportunities and a new homestead - a gift, a chance at growth - a tree of life.
If you're local, we sincerely invite you to visit and enjoy the new property and land alongside us. And if you follow along with us from afar, we'll keep you posted - with stories and photos and updates of progress as we nest into our new home and workspace.