Sitting here thumbing through the few pictures that we have of this building project (how did we ever survive without a cellphone camera in every pocket?), I came across a couple of shots of the old hammer mill building before we did anything to it. I’m so glad we had the forethought to snap at least a couple of photos. This structure hadn’t been used for it’s intended purpose since the early 1980s when the family stopped farming commercially. The economy had changed making it almost impossible for family owned and run farms to thrive no matter how many generations old. It had also left a lot of farmers in huge amounts of debt and many literally “sold the farm!”
Marvin’s dad had started a Heating and Cooling Company in 1963 though, so there was enough income to sustain the property but not the farming side of the family business. As a result, this building was abandoned by it’s original intent and sat for years being used only for storage. Slowly degrading with time and lack of purposeful use. Until it caught the eye of Someone who had a vision of what it could be, Someone who knew how to connect this falling apart building with someone who needed a place to….build. I’m so glad that Someone spoke to our hearts and shared His idea with us, trusting our hearts to listen and obey.
Honesty time: Originally, this whole idea scared me to death…IT SCARED ME TO DEATH, PEOPLE! Seriously!! My mind couldn’t grasp all the work that would need to be done, let alone how it was going to be paid for. I had NO idea where to even begin. I vividly remember looking at the building and crying on more than one occasion. Lest I have misled you into thinking that my attitude stayed right throughout this entire journey, let me set the record straight—IT DID NOT!
Yes, I never doubted that we had heard a clear word from the Lord; and, I saw His hand begin to work from the moment we decided to do whatever it took to become debt-free as we knew we were being instructed by God to do. We had taken time to pray (a couple of months actually), we had each heard the identical phrase in our spirits, “Out of the excess of society, I will build your house.” Our house had sold quickly and, though micro in size, we had been given a place to move into while we worked to build. But, that first night sleeping in our “Little Shack Out Back” was spent in silent sobs.
Lying on my back that night not knowing if Marvin was asleep or not, tears began to roll down my cheeks and fill my ears with water. I rolled over onto my side not so much to drain my ears as to pull the edge of the pillow up over my face to absorb the sound of my weeping. We had been so happy in the home we’d just sold. It wasn’t huge or elaborate, but we loved it there.
The day of the closing on the sale of our house, I watched my children go around to every room, every wall and door and closet inside the house for a final look, touch, embrace. Then out into the yard to walk every inch one last time and hug every tree in which they had spent so many hours playing. They wept bitterly. It was one of the hardest things to watch that I could have ever imagined. Knowing they had bedrooms and space, a classroom and den, two bathrooms and a normal kitchen. Knowing that night they would climb a ladder and crawl into their beds, that we would have one small bathroom and a tiny kitchen that would function also as our den and mine and Marvin’s bedroom. That they were going from having closets to living in a building that had peg boards and old Wal-Mart shelving lining all the walls for storage and that only the necessities would be available as everything else would have to be stored.
They slept peacefully and (remarkably) joyfully that night. The tears washed away and they began immediately to think of this as their own personal “Little House on the Prairie” experience. Remember that TV show. We watched it all the time with the kids and read all the books; so, that became their frame of reference. Not sadness and sacrifice, but joy and adventure. Kids are so pliable. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 that unless you “become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV) I had a hard time making the leap to joy though. It came later….much later. (Have you read my blog on rejoicing?)
All I could see was our living condition and a falling apart old hammer mill building in my future. My vision wasn’t clear. My faith, however, was very clear and strong and not moved by my severe emotion and fear and dread. My God had never failed me (and I had seen some pretty tough times in my life). Marvin had also never failed me. The reality was that I was hiding my weeping from a man who would have only held me while I wept. But, I knew he was tired and probably a little worried too and I didn’t want to add to his burden….I found out years later that he was shedding tears too, silently beside me.
This was the month of November, 2000. The photo above is one view of what would become our new home…that God built “out of the excess of society” and He had His eye on some pretty sweet stuff to send our way!
How about you, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment below and…
Let’s Grow Together!