Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting Here Part 2: The best house hunter

So that messy, rambling last post described how we finally got the guts and the opportunity to leave the rat race. This one is about this last little leg of the journey.

I've been interested in homes for longer than I can remember. Sometime in elementary school, I remember my sisters redoing mom's bathroom with strawberry wallpaper, and I wanted to hang a little Strawberry Shortcake picture I had in it.

Mom never had what most women had. She turned 75 yesterday, and as I was thinking of her, one word came to mind that always comes to mind- contentment. Mom knows how to be content with whatever. Maybe she didn't learn it gracefully; maybe at some point before the period I can remember, she felt restless or like striving.....but I've never seen it. I've never seen that woman strive after anything. I can't say I take after mom in that respect, though it is something I'm striving to do. Woops. Anywho, the thing I've probably strived after the most is my idea of a home.

A lovely little cottage is something that's been in my heart for a long time. Whether you realize it or not, there are many aspects to a home that affect your sense of well being. There is an art to making a home lovely and it, in my mind and heart, involves a whole set of experiences that has less to do with what you hang on the wall and more to do with your overall sense of comfort, space, balance, and light.

When Cory and I bought our first house I started my first great striving project... I mean, remodeling project. We just got the bones of the thing finished when we had to put it on the market because the coffeeshop was pulling us under. Right before we left there I remember starting to think about building our own house... the idea was wonderful to me. To have something exactly the way I wanted it was more than alluring. Fast forward past many rentals, a house we bought and sold in less than a year, another rental, then our move to the country, and two more rentals. It was during the first rental after the move to the country that I started drawing.

What can you do when you are renting a place with an oven handle that looks like it came off a Buick? Draw. I spent a ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous, amount of time drawing the floor plan and elevations of the house I wanted ... every free second I had for an entire year to be exact. I not only had the house in my head, but we wanted to build it for cash on a large piece of land in the country... kind of a lofty plan, I admit, when you are living from paycheck to paycheck; but that's how a zealot rolls (at least, in their head).

I researched construction loans, garage apartments to get us on the land, living in a yurt (that's a round tent), etc.etc. It's a conflicting experience when on one hand you know you have to have a set of quad arched french doors in a jamb as thick as an English built manor, but on the other hand you want to be totally debt free and minister to orphans. Hmmm.... a bit of a quandary. God listened as I wrestled with him over these things. I even talked with him about how foolish I felt for caring about something that seemed to matter so little like beauty in a home. He straightened me out on that one though. It seems God likes beauty too and doesn't feel it's a waste of time at all. He sort of invented it. He is it.... if you want to be totally accurate. He patiently walked me through what was really behind my ideas... seeing the beauty outside that He created, feeling His peace... I wanted a home that emanated Him.

In the spring of last year when we were ready to start looking for land, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the internet. We had a huge area we could look in and it was still like finding a needle in a haystack. I had no idea land was so hard to find. It seems that every piece of decent land is bought up by a "developer" who destroys it and turns a small fortune by building a "community." I was getting discouraged. It looked like all we would be able to afford, with financing, was a garage apartment with a ridiculously termed construction loan. So I go back to God. What's the deal God? So I've made this place sort of a little, teeny, tiny idol. It's okay to want something, right?

TTTHEEENNNN, after wrestling a little more, I say, "Okay God. If you want us to just buy a place, I will do that. I want this house that I've drawn, but if you have something different, I give you permission to override my wants." Did you know God is a gentleman? A lot of people don't know that. That's why Jesus says "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." He doesn't kick in your door. You always have a free choice, free will. He had this place waiting for us all along but would not override my efforts without my permission. Of course His plans for us are always better than what we can do; but, even so, He is a gentleman; a gentleman who also happens to not want His lady having any other gods before Him. So I go back to the computer and find an ad on Craig's list for this place on all this land. I love this place, this gift from God. He even made sure my beloved beech trees were here. But it gets better.

Cory and I bought it feeling sure God gave us the land and the place to stay in while we built the house I designed; as sort of a giant addition (how we would pay for it and find the time, I can't tell you). I started wrestling again recently with my drawing, and our finances, and this place...wondering how we'd ever make that happen. The other day after I broke out my drafting paper and starting working on version gazillion, everything started to click into place. God started giving me eyes to see that it's almost all done. I can have almost exactly what I wanted by making some modifications and adding less than 200 square feet. LESS THAN 200 SQUARE FEET. At one point I calculated 7 feet and 10 inches to fit in the french doors on the west side exactly where I want them. I went inside the closet to measure how much room the air handling system was taking up on that wall and... surprise surprise...7' 10" exactly.

I can't say we're totally done but I'm pretty sure I see how it all will fit together now. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have been able to fit everything in such a small place on my own. I had tried and my drafts kept ballooning up into megahouses instead of the small cottage that I wanted. It looks like I have a good designer though. I think it's gonna be good.

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