Jan 8, 2020 | Faith, People

[title subtitle=”WORDS Jessica Sowards
IMAGE Rangizzz/Shutterstock”][/title]

It’s been six years since I first met my home. One cold January afternoon at the very start of 2014, my dad called me and asked me to give him a ride to the automotive shop on the other side of town to pick up his truck. I’d just laid my kids down for their nap. My house was a mess, with the Christmas decorations only halfway packed into the attic. I stood in my bedroom with my phone to my ear and heard the request that I knew would rearrange my afternoon plans. Wishing that I hadn’t answered the phone, I sighed. “Yeah,” I said, “Just give me half an hour. I’ll have to get the kids up.”

I did get them up. I layered on the 4-ply appropriate winter attire for small boys and we piled into the car, picked up my dad and headed on our way.

At the time, my husband Jeremiah, was working in youth ministry at a local church. We rented the house I’d grown up in from my dad, a 4-bedroom rancher on a quiet suburban street. I lived five minutes from the grocery store and grew plants in pots on my porch. In the mornings, I walked my older sons to school, a block away from our house. It was a sweet life, but I had a burning dream in my heart.

I wanted a farm. I dreamed of a house in the country with acres that stretched out underneath a starry night sky. I dreamed of having chickens in the yard and a sprawling garden that could fill my pantry shelves with canned goods. I desired to milk goats and raise our own meat. I wanted it so badly that I would cry sometimes when faced with the impossibility of the thing. I learned patience because there was no other option but to wait.

On our drive to the shop, my dad and I passed a house for sale. It had a red barn so, naturally, I craned my neck to see it.

“You should look at it, see how much it is,” my dad said, nodding to the house.

“Can’t afford it,” I quickly replied.

“You don’t know,” he said, “You haven’t even looked.”

I changed the subject and we didn’t talk about the house with the red barn again. I dropped him off and headed home. I didn’t even think of turning into that driveway until I came upon it. As the house came into view, in an impulsive instant, I pulled in.

It was a foreclosure, listed by HUD. I’d never heard of purchasing houses like that. I didn’t know the foreclosure market of government-flipped houses even existed until that day. The sun broke through the clouds as I explored that property. The house was small but the acres were lovely. Before I knew it, I was planning the placement for the chicken coop and the garden. I was accessing the fencing and outbuildings, I was calling my husband and asking him to meet me there.

Before that day, we’d completely given up hope on a country house and a hobby farm, thinking we’d wait until our kids were older and money wasn’t so tight. We put an offer in on that house that very evening. I barely slept all night, pouring over Google images of the property. My heart was alive with hope and I felt a measure of excitement that overwhelmed me.

The next morning, our offer was denied. Another offer had been accepted just fifteen minutes before ours came through. We did not get the house with the red barn.

I was devastated. All my plans were like a flash in a pan. When they burned out, I was left standing in my suburban living room in bleak January, surrounded by Christmas décor that mocked me with its untimely joy. Jeremiah tried to console me, but I wouldn’t hear it. I felt foolish for even believing I could have my farm at all. I swore I wouldn’t even think of a farm for years, that I certainly wouldn’t be bold enough to try to obtain one.

Jeremiah, however, was thrilled. Since we first started dating, I’d been dragging him to farm properties. He’d go along, listen to my planning, endure the limitless and ever-changing fashion of my dreaming. He’d nod and smile and say, “Someday. Yes, eventually.”

Something about the foreclosure market excited him though. Maybe it simply brought purchasing a home and land into the realm of possibility. Maybe the challenge of a fixer-upper sung to his inner handyman. I don’t know, but whatever it was caused him to dig deeper when I gave up.

He found me in bed a couple of days after the offer fell through. It was late at night and he touched my shoulder with ginger excitement and handed me a piece of paper with a listing. “It’s further out of town than the other property,” he’d whispered. “There’s no barn that I can see and there’s less land but the house is big and it’s really cheap.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want it.”

“We’re going to see it in the morning,” he responded.

We did. My heart was too fearful to open up so I said I hated it, but Jeremiah was sold. He has a way of seeing what isn’t there yet. When I looked on a house that needed 20k in repairs, he saw it complete. When I looked at land with no fences or barns, he saw it inhabited by animals and gardens, fulfilling our needs.

It’d been six years since I first met my house. On a cold January afternoon, right after a tremendous disappointment, I sat in my parked car in her driveway with my arms crossed waiting on my husband who had been exploring the property for an hour. I was absolutely determined that we would not purchase this house, that I would not even for a moment be vulnerable enough to want it. I’m very bad at the resolve to stay hard hearted, though. And while Jeremiah dreamed, I looked at the house and prayed. I prayed until the fear chipped off and the hardness softened just enough to let the idea of a farm breathe and live again.

When he made it back to the car, he said, “I want to buy this house.”

I shrugged, as coldly as I could manage and said “Fine, try. But I doubt it happens.”

I write this article in front of the fireplace in my newly remodeled basement. My home is no longer the neglected foreclosure she was when we first found her. She has been loved back to life. She has witnessed the growth of our family, the flourishing of our marriage and the birth of the farm that now spreads out before her.

She isn’t perfect or fancy, but she has been exactly what we needed. Every January, I remember when we found her, how I was too afraid of disappointment to even see her potential. I remember the process of negotiations and escrow and the precarious months that followed that January day. I remember signing the papers and becoming homeowners, and all the work that came after.

In January, when it is too cold to work outside and the fireplace calls my name, I am especially thankful for this home of mine. She has been a good friend, and we have loved her well.

Do South Magazine

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