What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Name of the Place

Growing up, I was in a nomadic family. I believe my parents have moved 22 times since they have been married. (Right, Mom?) And in my life, in particular, the moves were often to different STATES and often far, far away from friends and family. I took my neighbor with me for Grandparents Day at school. As a child, it was mostly fun, adventurous, exciting (well, maybe not for Mom!). But when I met Matt, I got to see a different side of things.

He lived in the same house he was born in all of his non-married life. Both sets of grandparents lived down the road and he would be babysat or spend the night at their homes regularly. We still pass a stone wall that he built as a teenager~out of stones that another Newman built long ago. His family is all buried in the local cemetery. Our children sleep in his old room for rest time when we visit.

It was all so different from my upbringing. So constant, so secure. So.....stagnant. Though I wouldn't trade how I was raised, this lifestyle~so vastly different from my own~appealed to me greatly.

When I got married, I decided I should like to live in one beautiful, amazing home the rest of my days; that my children would grow up and their children would sleep in the same room and reminisce, that we could write the heights of our children on the doorposts and see them, small again, decades later. I thought it would be lovely to watch my children climb and play on the apple trees their parents played on and that we could all picnic under a great maple that we planted. A place where we would never have to abandon our memories. Wouldn't my life be grand?!

And then real life happened. And while 'real life' didn't turn out at all like I had envisioned, it was beautiful to us....like my childhood. We moved, almost like clockwork, every two years. Each place we made our home happy and sweet, and named her thus.

Home #1 was the home where Matt and I moved into married life, blushing and flirtatious. Where we learned to live with one another and had our first (and second and third) fight, something I was SURE would never, ever happen. It was where I learned that Matt had a horrible temper and where he learned that I couldn't cook a lick. It was a teeny little house that you could see every square foot of when you walked in the front door. Reminiscent of Laura Ingalls house (minus the loft), it was the most lovely place on earth in my mind. It was where Matt and I slept in a twin bed together until we could afford a queen size bed, but when the bed was delivered~ the delivery men weren't sure it would fit into the room. (It did, though when you walked into the doorway you were practically on it and I had to climb over Matt to get to my side.) There were open shelves between the 'living room' and the 'dining room' where I put all my lovely shiny crystal wedding presents and the most lovely rainbows would dance through the house every morning as the sun came up-right through the window onto the crystal. It sat on the farm where Matt worked and right next to a large house where a dozen Mexicans lived. This was the home I would walk to the farm and have picnic lunches with Matt and where Matt learned to speak fluent Spanish, even though he took French in school. This is where Corynn was born. But we moved about a month later. We called her The Little House. We pass her on the way to church.

Home #2 was an apartment down the road. Still small, though more spacious than the first house, it had an upstairs(!) that had TWO rooms and it even had two bathrooms (though the downstairs bathroom, your knees rubbed the washing machine when you sat down.) It was in a nice grand house, the large side being where the owner (our landlady) lived. I really disliked this house~ it is bizarre to play outside in a yard where your landlady is watching you. Or hanging clothes on a line where another persons clothes were hanging. Or watching her dig up the rose bush you just planted because, well, she didn't want it in HER lawn. This was the home where I hung lights from trees and we danced and celebrated our anniversary (the same night our single landlady had all her single girlfriends over for cards and they all swooned at the romance of it all). This is the home I taught myself how to can and where Matt went to his parents' house every weekend to "DO something outside!". This is the home where Andrew was born. We called her The Duplex. But we moved a week later.

Home #3 was where we became a family. A real family. It was three and a half hours away, in a place where we knew no one. A beautiful, big, BRICK home with columns in front~ it, too, came with the farm where Matt was working~ though this time, it wasn't ON the farm but down the road a bit. It had a huge yard, where I began teaching myself how to garden and a huge garage where Matt would work. It had a huge basement where the children would play and a huge CEILING in the living room that I would sometimes just stare up at in awe. Everything about it was huge in my mind, coming from two *small* houses before that.

This was the home where we met a wonderful church family, and established wonderful lifelong friendships with some dear families. It is where I met with one of my dearest friends every few weeks and we would get together at someones' house after the children were in bed, and we would crochet and gab, sometimes cry and ALWAYS laugh the nights away. This is the home where the shelves that held my beautiful crystal wedding presents broke, dashing them all to pieces and leaving me with just three special things...none of them rainbow-throwing crystals. Since we lived so far from parents', we were able to establish our own family traditions and celebrate our own family holidays....at our own home! For this reason alone, I will forever love this place. Matt moved down there in order to take over the farm and buy it out from the farmer, which was never a part of the plan in the farmers' mind, turns out.... so Matt, with no love-loss and maybe just a bit of resentment, called this house (despite its' grandiose charm and the memories we built as a family) simply The Brick House. We packed up and moved when I was pregnant with Adele'.

Home #4 is this, our current dream home. Since our dream house was really just a shell when we moved, we had to live with Matt's parents for a month or so. So I was pregnant when we packed up the Brick House and very VERY pregnant when we finally unpacked it into the new house. I lifted things WAY too heavy for a woman great with child and remember feeling guilty the whole time. But. It had to be done.

This house is much more grandiose than the brick house ever was and has barns to boot. It has high ceilings and large rooms and everything I ever wanted in a home (except a mortgage.) This is the home where we finally started to live as we always wanted to live: with wood heat, with animals, with a huge garden and chickens. This is where we had Halloween parties in the woods, and circus parties and book parties and Christmas parties. It is where I began to teach myself about food storage and preparedness. It is where Matt taught himself how to butcher a cow himself. With his bare hands he tore the cow from limb to limb. It is where we began having somewhat regular dates (once every several months) since the grandparents lived close by for babysitting. This is the house where Adele' and Judah joined our family. We call this home The Mansion.

Home #5 is the one we are working hard for, the one that is pulling us and our attentions from the moment we wake up to the moment we collapse into bed, and then pervades our dreams. When we first began looking at it, I called it the Hobbit Hole. With its dark paneling for walls, short ceilings, lack of light fixtures and just general claustrophobic feel, that name seemed to suit it. But of course, it won't be long before I throw buckets of white paint in every direction to brighten up the place. So, no....it won't be called the Hobbit Hole. Instead, a much better, more fitting name we have decided on is....


Right now, the only homestead we have is built of hope and mortared with plans. The place we envision, the place we hope for is something we have to work to attain, something we ARE working for. So... Hopestead it is. And each time a piece of laminate flooring or wallpaper is peeled back, that hope grows.

We have been working tirelessly at Hopestead this past week. From dawn to dusk. we wake up, eat breakfast, I make lunch and snack and we go and are gone until dinner (and often later)

I feel homeless right now. Our Mansion is as of yet not packed (except books) and still feels like home but the only time we are here is to sleep. We spend every moment we can at Hopestead but it feels nothing at all like a home, only like work. We basically do our 'living' in the car between the two homes. And that is DEFINITELY the only time I sit down too. Pretty sad.

But! Not without its benefits. Here is some of what we have done:

You've seen this before:

Now it looks like this:

This is how the someday school room was looking last week:

Now it looks like this:

This is one of two medium sized bedrooms with lighting and small closets in the upstairs. The other two small rooms were part of the original house and have only a single (not grounded) outlet each to boast and barn boards for floors.

And here it is now~ so empty it echoes.

This is the BEFORE picture of the girls' room:

And, while it isn't DONE...here it is presently:

The hallway then:

And now:

The stairway then:

And now:

The master bedroom~the easiest of the upstairs rooms.

After I tackled it:

While I was tackling the rooms~ Matt was on the tractor taking load by load of stuff to the fire, tearing down shelves, building shelves, helping haul furniture, and completely cleaning out the granary. I never got a before picture of that-but it was amazing what he did all himself.

Once the last of the STUFF is gotten rid of, we can begin to squeeze as many cosmetic changes as we can muster into one week. Then, ready or not, it is time to move.

And finally..... a little something I find solace in:

by Edgar Albert Guest

The dreamer sees the finished thing
before the start is made;
She sees the roses pink and red
beyond the rusty spade,
And all that bleak and barren spot
which is so bare to see
Is but a place where very soon
the marigolds will be.

Imagination carries her
across the dusty years,
And what is dull and commonplace
in radiant charm appears.
The little home that she will build
where willows bend and bow
Is but the dreamer's paper sketch,
but she can see it now.

She sees the little winding walk
that slowly finds her door,
The chimney in its ivy dress,
the children on the floor;
The staircase where they'll race and romp,
the windows where will gleam
The light of peace and happiness -
the house that's still a dream.

You see the weeds and rubbish there,
and ugliness and grime,
But she can show you where there'll be
a swing in summertime.
And she can show you where there'll be
a fireplace rich with cheer,
Although you stand and shake your head
and think the dreamer queer.

Imagination! This it is
the dreamer has today;
She sees the beauty that shall be
when time has cleared the way.
She reads the blueprint of her years,
and she can plainly see
Beyond life's care and ugliness -
the joy that is to be.


Bonnie said...

It is beautiful Rebecca, absolutely beautiful, so much light, and lovely wood floors (it takes A LOT for me to think wood floors are ugly). You have worked nothing short of a miracle my dear! Hopestead is perfect.

Mary said...

It looks so much better already. I am not lying to make you feel better. Promise. I am sorry you are feeling homeless, but you said Matt was your home, remember ? So as long as you are in the same plot of land, working together toward a dream you are HOME.

The thing that jumped out at me though is that you either had a baby or were pregnant when you were moving. So the question is, are you pregnant now ? :)

Tracy said...

Wonderful progress! I know it isn't perfect, and far from where you want it to be, but you are already making memories, and it really is charming!

Terri said...

Rebecca, you have made tremendous process in just a week! Now that the stuff is out of it, I can see so many possibilities. I know you will make it you and make it beautiful!

Lindsey's Photographs said...

I bet you've found some neat treasures. I wish, I WISH I could show you photos of what our house was when we moved in. Its all too similar! There is hope youll have it exactly how you want it. And just as lovely as you've always made your homes.

ulli said...

What a beutiful poem. And look at all the work you've done--way to go! Hopeing you found some family pieces to cherish amoung the stuff. Your hard work is paying off and you're setting a great example for the children. Keep on dreaming!

Unknown said...

You are doing GREAT, Rebecca! Keep up the good work, friend! (((HUGS)))
I'm with Bonnie on wood floors... :)

Mar said...

Amazing progress - you are going to look back on those pictures some day and smile (and ache in memory, too). You are making a marvelous home.

Love the floors!

A Happy Wife said...


Echoing the other ladies' comments when I say you've come a long way! The house looks great, and I'm sure you'll add your special touches as time goes by. I know how hard it is to live in the middle of chaos, and since you'll be working on rooms while living there, you'll have some frustrations along the way. (After almost 2 years of living in our new home, we are really close to having all the boxes unpacked and organized...but I had days when I thought I'd never get through it all!)

It would've taken me forever just to go through all the "cool stuff" left behind. I admire your resolve to get it all cleaned out.

I'm so happy you finally have a home with some "roots." It is your blank canvas, where you can at last begin working on all those dreams of yours.

Have you ever read, "The Enchanted Barn" by Grace Livingstone Hill? I think you would enjoy it. The main character reminds me of you in many ways.

One of my favorite sayings is, "To those with limited resources, God gives the gift of creativity." You have that gift, my friend...I'm so excited to see how you will use it in your new home!

And you know I love this poem!

Kris Zerby

Leah said...

"Hopestead" - that's perfect.
You're doing a great job so far, Rebecca. ((hugs))

Full of Grace said...

I like hopestead so much better! :) I love your new home, I really, really do- but I've been telling you how much of a gift it was since the beginning, and how it had potential without seeing it, oh, and how exciting it will be to make it your own..hmm...older sisters aren't so bad to have around, eh? ;)

In all seriousness though, I really Truly Love it and know that you will make it your own in no time at all!!! :) Can't wait to see it in person :)

Mama to 12, so far said...

Hopestead is looking great already! And I thought I was nesting up a storm over here. Nope you may not be nesting in the traditional sense, but you are doing something like it!

I love the floors.

Anonymous said...

Potential.....endless potential! It looks so promising! I pray you continue to feel inspired as you make over the new home! That it will feel more like the home of your dreams!
<3 Bobbi

Nanci said...

Hi Rebecca,

I absolutely love the remembrances in this post. And the work that you have done is phenomenal. I know that you will make it beautiful and welcoming, as you always do.

I pray for you continually as I know that you and Matt are working so hard. I didn't know if mail service had been restored to the Mansion yet. Please e-mail me with the address to the Hopestead.

For me, my favorite house will ALWAYS be the Brick House, because that's when you all were just a stones-throw away. And I always miss you so much.

Remember to email me the address, so I can write you.

Love and prayer,


Leah T. said...

Wow!!! I'm amazed at the progress you have made in such a short amount of time! It looks fabulous already! I do wish that we still lived close by so that I could come over and help.

I, too, love the wood floors! I'm excited to see each room take shape as you begin moving your things in. I know you will make it a beautiful, comfortable, and welcoming home. You'll have to make a scrapbook chronicling all the work and love that you've put into Hopestead!

Marlene Bibby said...

I love the name, and I am so utterly impressed. What you have accomplished is truly amazing. You will be in soon, and then you can do bit by by to make it home. And since you aren't planning on moving again, you have the remainder of your life to make memories and get it how you want it. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Amazing Rebecca! I am going to enjoy watching your progress as you make this your home! I really enjoyed reading about the various homes you've had. I was blessed to meet you when you lived at the brick house and we drove up for the afternoon. You were a wonderful hostess and it was an afternoon I will treasure always even though we were never able to do it again before you moved.
Jen in MD

Unknown said...

Love the new name & you have done an amazing job getting all that work done! What a difference! I think the wallpaper in your someday schoolroom is the same that was in our master bedroom when we moved here. We had a lot of poorly applied wallpaper to remove back then, among other things. It's fun in a way (although a lot of hard work) to turn a home into your own :)

Abigail said...

Millie's looking at these pictures with me, and her comment pretty much mirrors my own, "Ooh. That's a lot of stuff. Oh, eek. It's pretty, though!"

And it is pretty and charming both! I, too, love the wood floors, but I'm a sucker for old wood floors, barn boards and all.

Abigail said...

We chewed through seven homes (and a month and a half of gypsyhood) before we came to The Old Homestead, which still has no name but that. (I don't know if I could train any of the relatives out of it, anyway!) Hopestead is perfect. The name snugly suits the house and you all. I love it.

And may we come tomorrow to help? I'll leave you a voicemail, too. If tomorrow works, I'm also bringing a meal for you, so don't bother cooking, Missus.