So I don’t care much for material things. I don’t like to spend more than $50 on jeans and I wear hand me downs on the regular without shame. I shop at Target and on Facebook marketplace. I wear Tiffany’s only because it’s been gifted to me. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’d never buy it. I drive a Mercedes only because it’s paid for through my company (and if they saw the inside they would take it back and string me up for blasphemy). My wedding ring is a hand me down (that I love, but wouldn’t have ever bought) and my husband and I don’t even give each other gifts… like not for Christmas, birthdays or anniversaries (for the most part). It’s not where I spend money.
But I’ve always dreamed of building a big house. Maybe it’s because I’ve moved a lot in my life- over 30 times in just shy of 35 years- and ‘home’ has always been a little bit of a confusing concept for me, but I’ve always wanted to build the very perfect house for me, raise my kids in it, have so many memories in it that my kids always want to be home for the holidays, and love it so much that I request to be buried in the back yard. And my dream home would be a ‘spare no expense’ type home. Not that we’d be stupid with money, but I didn’t want to scale down and so I’ve wanted to wait until we are really ready to build what we really want. I am willing to be patient for the great dream as opposed to settling for the good dream.
When we moved to our farm in Tennessee, that was always the premise. When we were looking for land, the plan was absolutely to find a house that would suit our family for the next 3-5 years while we built our dream house somewhere on the property. We had hoped for 40 acres, but God blessed us double with 84 acres, and honestly I can’t imagine building a second house on a space of land much smaller than this, and still feel ‘private.’
Just like any other dream in my heart, I’ve had to question it time and time and time again… is this God’s will? Is this what He wants me to want? Was this dream put here by him? I’ve even prayed- so much recently, as a matter of fact- that if it’s not meant to be, that he takes the desire off my heart. Yet it remains as strong a desire as ever.
When we first saw the farm, back in October of 2016, I knew when I walked out into the back 20ish acre pasture that this would be where our future dream home would be. I could see it plain as day, and I felt goosebumps the entire time I walked through what would one day be the front yard of a lifelong dream come true.
Let me take you back for a second here…
About a year before we found our farm, I was looking up some Tennessee properties on Realtor.com and I found my dream house. I can still picture it in my head now, although I haven’t been able to find pictures of it since it was sold and taken off the website. It was a stunning farmhouse- new construction, but styled to feel old and classic. The 1920’s came to mind in the simple, yet ornate details throughout. White. Clean. Fresh. I loved it.
Fast forward to Pinterest, a few months before we moved to the farm. I found a floorpan and a style of home that I completely fell head over heels for. If you’re not familiar with custom homes, you can choose a floor plan from a builder and customize it to fit your needs (i.e. add a bathroom, change the layout of a room, etc). This custom house was the stuff of dreams; My dreams, as a matter of fact. I remember flipping through the pictures- and not every floor plan on Pinterest comes with two dozen pictures of a finished example of the house- and knowing it was the house I would build. Someday. When the time was right.
I run the back pasture, as you know if you read this blog. I love the author Mark Batterson, and I recently finished my second book of his, Chase the Lion, and it’s a must read if you love the Lord and love to dream. But the first book I read of his was called, The Circle Maker. In the book, he speaks about praying literal circles around your dream. I’m talking about getting out there and walking around the home, the city block, the person, the family that you’re praying for, encircling them/it in prayer. The book touched a deep part of my heart, and I’ll be honest… as I walked this farm on that October afternoon, before it was ours, I prayed circles around it as we walked the landscape. I prayed that God would find a way to make it ours if it was in his will.
I do that today, as I run the back pasture. I pray circles around our future homesite and I pray the same prayer- Lord, make a way to build this house if it is your will.
Here’s the deal, Readers, it’s hard to reconcile how God would find it in his will to build me a dream house when there are bigger fish to fry in this world, am I right? And at times, I feel desperately selfish for even praying for such things, because I know these desires don’t build me any sort of treasures in heaven- they can’t, right?
I spoke to my dear friend Mo about this very idea several months ago, as she was able to build her dream house twice. Once before the fire, and now again, after. And she said that it is a blessing to build God into a house. She said that she knows me and she knows that my desire to have a big, beautiful house is not to show off to the neighbors, but to have a place for fellowship, a place where people come together in His name. A place where memories are made and a family is built.
Well, a few months after I found the house that I knew I would build someday, I got distracted. I found another floor plan that I didn’t like as much, but seemed to maybe check more boxes. It had a lot more unused spaces, and yet for some reason it convinced me to abandon the first house and go for the second. I drew the floor plan out, made my changes and stewed on it and stewed on it.
About two months ago, during a week long prayer fast, God convicted me one morning that I hated the new house and needed to abandon it entirely and go back to the first house He had shown me. I didn’t even question it when I got that clarity of thought, and I told Thomas right away that I hated the floor plan we had drawn out and poured over for the last 10 months. He laughed but quickly agreed that the original house that I had fallen in love with would be our house. So I spent the whole day drawing out the floor plan of the first house- the real dream house- and I made my changes and I loved it all the more. I felt really good about it. And I felt like God had renewed my hope that this dream was from him.
Fast forward, again, to last night. Y’all, I have been wavering on this dream again. I am human, and even after God convicts me, time seems to dampen the steadfastness of my heart. I question. I wonder. Is this really the plan for me? Will I be so blessed? Can I still ask for this, for more, when I’ve been so very blessed already?
Readers, full disclosure: Thomas and I have been very blessed financially because of our business. But it happened fast, and we didn’t change the very habits that this business saved us from many years ago. We haven’t ever been people who budget, and we’ve never been very responsible with money. Let me tell you, this is hard for me to type, and painful everyday to confront. We make truly amazing money and shouldn’t have a care in the world. But the WORLD is so hard to live in sometimes, am I right? We are weak, and have been irresponsible with our financial blessings.
But this year, since January, we’ve been diligently tracking every single dollar we make and spend, and we’ve been paying off the debt we accrued during our move. Praise God we are half way out of debt and on track to be debt free (besides the house and one car) by the end of this year. We had two big tax bills to get in front of and some credit cards. We’re getting there. But this has set up a very different financial situation in our house. We are rebuilding our savings, and we are unwilling to acquire anymore debt, and so when we are hit with things like new brakes and new tires for the cars, we’re getting creative as to where we are going to pull that money from. In a former life, we would have just spent the money, or put it on a credit card or taken it out of savings, but now, we’re allocating all extra money towards debt and savings accounts and we refuse the compromise our progress, no matter what it is. So Thomas has started to drive Uber in Nashville for two reasons:
- He meets all kinds of people in the music industry and has made very important connections and been given invaluable advice as to where to go and what to do to break into the song writing scene. Honestly, it occurred to him because when you enter into a song writing competition, you often have to check in at 6pm and may not play until midnight. And so he figured he could Uber while he waits.
- He’s able to make a ton of money! A few nights Ubering and we’ve got new brakes and tires are next, lol!
This is a humbling season for us. It’s hard to confront habits and patterns that directly compromise your pride and lifestyle, believe you me. It would be way easier to just put it on a card, or use our savings and never have to write this blog. I mean, how easy would it be to just put these things on a credit card and add on a month or two of debt payments into the new year? But you guys, I am a stubborn butt sometimes, and when I say we are going to hunker down and pay this debt off- all of it- in one year… I mean it. No compromising. Even if that means we have to get creative.
Why am I telling you all this and being way too vulnerable with y’all? Because God uses everything! He wastes nothing. And in this season of waiting… waiting to be out of debt, waiting to build our house, waiting for God to show us what He has for us here… God shows up and shows off, like Mark Batterson promises He will.
Last night, Thomas headed up to Nashville to Uber because we need new tires and they’re $1500 and we aren’t tapping into savings. Before he left, we had dinner together as a family and even though he and I haven’t so much as talked about our future house plans in probably a month, he prayed at dinner that God would direct us on where to go and what to do about our new house. It honestly took my breath away, because I’ve been praying again recently, so much, for God to take it off my heart if it’s not meant to be. I’ve been wavering, as I said. I’ve been trying to find contentment in the countless blessings that God has already given me.
I did a teaching through my old church just yesterday. I asked these women God has put in my care, “even if your worst fear comes true… what will you do to move forward?”
Not that never building this house will be my worst fear realized, but it made me confront the ‘even if’s in my own life. What if… this is the best it ever is for our family…
Well, let me tell you what, when you reframe your ‘worst case’ like that… you are brought to your knees so quickly in gratitude my friends. All of the sudden, you’re embarrassed at how you’ve taken so very much for granted. Even if I never receive another blessing from my father in heaven, my goodness, he has blessed me beyond measure. Even if today is as good as it will ever be for us, my goodness, He has mastered abundance. Andy Andrews- another favorite author of mine- reminds me that if ever there are blessings beyond breath in my lungs and food on my plate, I will be grateful for the blessing of abundance.
I am grateful for the blessing of abundance in my life in every sense of the word. I wake up every morning absolutely riveted with gratitude because I have so very much to be thankful for. And for good measure, I write down three things every single day just to start my day.
But let me take you back to the story here because I promise I’m going somewhere with all of this…
On his way through Franklin and Brentwood- the absolute ‘Hollywood’ of Nashville, everyone who is anyone lives there- Thomas saw a big fat red spot on his Uber app. That means surge pricing. That means that any rides that he picks up in that area will be at an elevated rate, and given that they are likely headed to Nashville, which is still a ways away, it means an easy $50! Well, Thomas is driving through this neighborhood, no sign of anyone or anything that would constitute surge pricing- which means there is an elevated need for drivers. Nothing. Not anywhere. And Thomas told me that as he was driving through this crazy beautiful neighborhood full of beautiful homes, he was actually thinking about selling the farm and buying me one of the beautiful homes in Franklin because he knows how much I long for my dream home. That’s my husband for you. He’s crazy like that. And of course I know God led us to this farm and wouldn’t change a bit of it (well, except for that whole dream house in the back pasture), but I appreciate his sacrificial love for me.
And in the middle of this nonexistent ‘surge’ area, while Thomas is thinking about our dream house, having just prayed for direction from God…
…Tom drives past our house.
In the dead center of the ‘surge’ red spot on the Uber app that clearly must be a malfunction of the app is our house. Not just a house like our house… but our exact house. The exact one.
He sent me a text message with these pictures and I about had a heart attack. We had just prayed. I had been praying. He had been thinking about it. We have been asking God for guidance. And Readers, if you know me, you know I always ask for it to be obvious.
And then this.
As Thomas humbly drives Uber so that we don’t have to compromise on our plan to get our shit together- I’m sorry, it has to be said that way- God shines a big fat light in our eyes and says, “I’m still here, and I still hear you.”
Y’all, I don’t know about you, but I need stories like this. I need them in my own life, but I also need to read about them in others lives, which is why I just had to write all this down for you. I need to be reminded that people don’t have it all together. I need to know that even the most faithful and devout of people still question and doubt and fear. I need to be reminded that when I step out and try to do it in my own strength, God shows up and says, “Sweet girl, I’ve got you! Don’t you know I’ve got you? Don’t you know that I have started a good work in you and I will not give up on that? Don’t you know that I put those very dreams on your heart, not to torment you, but because I love you?”
Readers, I’m ripping it open for you today because I want way less of the me that tries to hold it all together and I want more of the God who promises to piece me back together. I want to be real for you, so you know that taking steps in the right direction is HARD for ALL of us. Changing habits is HARD. Doing the right thing is HARD. Being humbled, especially when it comes to money and debt and bad decisions around that is HARD.
But God is good always. And His grace is new every morning. And His encouragement is there every time you seek it.
Y’all, I don’t know when I’ll step foot in this house…
God hasn’t revealed all the details to me just yet. But I know I’m going to keep working like it’s all up to me and praying like it’s all up to Him. Because He’s able to work miracles in my life, but he requires that I participate. Well, I’m in the game, and now you’re in the game too. You guys are in the know. And when we break ground on that house in the back pasture- and I’m more sure now than ever that we will- you know I’ll bring you with me, Readers. So stay tuned because I have a feeling God’s working on a pretty good blog.
In the meantime, take courage my friends. Have faith. Be patient. Know that God wastes nothing. And remember what Mark tells us in 5:41: Talitha Koum… Little girl, Rise!
God’s got a plan, but it requires that you humble yourself, be real, and RISE.