We made the drive out to Shelbyville, Tennessee on a crisp November morning to pick out stain, doors and knobs for our soon-to-be-built bookshelves.
My fourteen-year-old son sat in the back of my Ford Explorer, long legs stretched out in front of him from his chosen spot in the third row with the second rows seats folded. I complained that I felt like a chauffeur with him sitting all the way back there, but he didn’t bend. “I like it back here so I can do this,” and he somehow stretched those growing legs even longer.
In our home, there is a massive shortage of bookshelves. Built in 1999, this fact is quite a surprise because most houses from that time period (especially those built by the same builder as ours) have lots of beautiful built-ins. But, not ours.
There is a lovely front room, though, that was used by the previous owners as a formal living room. It will make a perfect library. Sure, I could put some pretty sofas and arrangements in there and use it for entertaining but our crowd of people is more of a chips and Ro-Tel dip kinda crowd. The formality would be a complete waste of space. We would honestly never use it.
There is a young woman at my church who makes me smile every time I see her. She is not just beautiful, she is strong. Tall, model-status lovely, smart, and full of life. It was my honor to host her 18th birthday party here at Autumn House.
“You can say no,” she said. “But I want to throw my nephew a surprise party and I was wondering if we could use your house.”
It was an easy yes. We have a big, spacious home with a pool along with a pool house that just screams to be used for parties. When the Lord gave us His name for our home, He also gave us a vision: Fill it up. Fill it with family, friends, and strangers. Use it. Bless with it. Be generous and allow the Kingdom family to feel at home here.
Originally published May 22, 2020 on alifeofsimplejoys.com.
It feels like we just unpacked, happily discarding the last of the boxes and beginning a new life here in this beautiful neighborhood surrounded by hills and pasture. I have become accustomed to the drone of maintenance equipment each morning as they parade out onto the golf course. The dawn has awakened me with her bright glow before my alarm even has a chance to chirp and I always say it’s the best way to wake up–slowly, naturally, aware that the day has just begun and I haven’t missed the sun’s appearance on the molten edge of the distant hills. The sunrise never gets old.
After the construction of our big, beautiful raised beds, I called around to find out who would deliver dirt. After a bit of research I found a company whose dump truck wasn’t broken (that is apparently a common issue around here) and they delivered a big, beautiful pile of soil just a few hours later.
When my husband and I first married, we “cat-sat” for a friend for about a month. That was the end of my cat parenting for nearly 25 years. I think the line was drawn when one of the precious kitties knocked over and shattered one of our crystal candlesticks. A wedding gift. My sentimentality was offended and I said, “Never again.”
But then we moved here to this beautiful spot of land and, well, there are pests. Mice, moles, huge Dobson Flies (Look them up. I kid you not.) that would be better controlled with the addition of some outdoor felines.
I have missed growing vegetables. Our previous home was located within the domain of an HOA that forbade such “unattractive” landscaping so, aside from the pitiful potted tomato plant on my pack patio, I had to go to the local Farmers’ Market to find fresh veggies.
Now we have eight beautiful acres. I have thought and a re-thought about where to put a garden and finally decided to build it in the backyard proper, within the fence, where Bambi and Thumper, as cute as they are, are less likely to devour our harvest. Then I had to decide what materials to use. I have visited Lowes and Home Depot many times, perusing the stone piles and wood options. I found out you never, ever use landscape timbers or railroad ties because they can be laced with chemicals such as asbestos. Not good. I seriously considered stone but it would require a lot of ground prep and, well, I am impatient.
We moved in on the first of July. Buried beneath a mountain of boxes, I frantically unpacked one after another, driven by the intense need to rid the rooms of cardboard and see the beautiful hardwoods hiding beneath the piles of packing paper.
Finally, after two weeks in this lovely place, I ascended a stepladder with a hammer and a smile to put a hole in the wall–a permanent scar that forever signifies the transplant of our lives here, in this big brick house surrounded by ponds and woods, fields and farms. A picture hung of seven smiling faces just before my oldest left the nest. Our family.
A few months ago I read Andrew Peterson’s book, Adorning the Dark. In this incredible work, Andrew describes the labor and intentionality of creativity and community. He describes his family’s decision to leave the city and move out to the country, putting down deep roots. He encourages the reader to be purposeful in settling down by saying,
“Give your house a name. Watch how it changes the way you treat it.”
Gosh, that sounded lovely. I experimented with possible names for our house, but nothing stuck. They didn’t feel authentic, and I hate the feeling of being a copycat so I ditched the idea and moved on.