If you’ve been a long time reader of mine (always a huge thank you to those that are) then you know I mentioned a few times that I had a post sitting in draft for over a year now. Well my friends, the time has finally come to be able to hit publish. Fast forward to it now being over two years later since this was first started, you can probably guess that a lot of editing and adding to the story has taken place. In fact, this story has completely changed from the original way it started.
Sometimes I wonder if God has a sense of humor or really tests us on the areas that we need some improvements on. You see, patience has never been a strong point of mine and it’s still something I continually work on. I like to have an idea of what’s going on, think about the plans ahead (yet I’m also very spontaneous, go figure), and if I’m being completely honest with myself, I also like to be in control.
Let’s rewind a bit to 2016. Gosh, that sounds so long ago when I type it out. You might see a little rewinding and fast forwarding all throughout this post, so bear with me. Some of you might remember when I shared that our little family sold our first house and moved into one of our rental properties. A little back story, Eric and I decided to dip our toes into real estate investment back in 2012. We are so thankful for the opportunities it’s opened up for us and for where it’s brought us to today. With that has come five houses, some great tenants, and a love for renovating and making things our own. Our original plan was to stay in our rental for maybe 6 months until we found our dream home. Ha! 6 months. Here we are two plus years later and I’m just packing my boxes.
If we go a ways back to when we bought our first house there was this overgrown Colorado Blue Spruce blocking the view of our front door. We decided to cut it down and use it as our first Christmas tree. This thing was huge. We took the first 9 feet off of it and brought it into the house. Aside from a spiders nest hatching in it while in the house, we loved it. That tree set the tone for our future together. We thought, how cool would it be to own a bunch of Christmas trees one day and be able to cut one down each year.
As time went on, we searched high and low for properties but nothing seemed to come close to what we had in mind. Since the winter is typically a slow time around here for the real estate market, we decided to wait until the spring. Eric came across a property that was in a back neighborhood that sat on 25 acres. It was a beautiful property, but there was one thing missing, there was no house. It was literally just 25 acres of corn. The idea of building our own home quickly became exciting and we decided to take a drive to look at it. After falling in love with it we put in an offer. There was a little back and forth with numbers and then after that things just fizzled out. The owners (that were a non-profit) decided to hold onto it. We were bummed out but it also felt like a long shot in the back of our minds. We continued our search with no real luck.
About 6 months later we went on a holiday train ride with our friends that was about 10 minutes from the property. After our time with them we decided to drive by to see if anything had been done with the land. We walked around a field of cut down corn and as we were there it started to snow flurry. It was a beautiful moment that brings me right back every time I think of it. We decided as a family to lay our hands on the ground and pray over it. While that might sound crazy to some, I think that sometimes it’s an outward act of showing God you are trusting in Him that makes such a difference. All crazy thoughts aside, would you believe that next day we got an email from our realtor asking us if we were still interested in the property and that the owners had contacted her that morning to ask. Eric called me at work to tell me what happened and I nearly fell out of my chair. I know God hears our prayers and all, but that felt like it was super quick. We went to our church’s Christmas Eve service that week and the children’s story they read was about a Christmas tree farmer. Eric and I just looked at each other and felt like it was meant to be. Two weeks later A’s preschool teacher stopped me in the hallway and told me that she felt led to tell me a story about what he said he wanted to be when he grew up. She told me that his answer was so different than any of the other children and that it was the way he said it. All I could think to myself was, what in the world did this boy say?!? She told me that he said he wanted to be a farmer when he grows up and to take care of animals. I explained to her that that’s something we were actually working on and that we were looking for land. She said she felt like it was an affirmation and that she was sure it would eventually happen. I walked away from our conversation with chills and a great hope. That next day we got word from our real estate agent that the offer we put in back over the summer was accepted and they wanted to move forward with us buying the land. I’m not sure I can put into words the excitement we felt and how everything felt like it was coming together. But, as quickly as things seemed to come together they also started to fall apart.
Since we were buying land we needed to put in a septic system and have a well dug out to be able to put a house on it. That particular town was one of the only ones in the state where you had to do a perc test during a certain time of year. When we went to initiate the test we were past that deadline. We fought with the town to let us test outside the parameters, but they would not budge. This meant we had to wait a whole other year to get this test done before we could move forward with anything. At first we were really upset but then we thought about it and waiting another year, saving up, and taking our time didn’t seem so bad. Fast forward that whole year and we were set and ready to go with getting the perc test under way. A perc test measures the water levels in the ground to see if you can even put a septic system in. This test was to be done during the town’s wet season which was January-March. Well wouldn’t you know, it happened to be one of the worst winters ever for us and we got slammed with snow storm after snow storm. Within that time period we failed two of the weeks because the water level was too high. We fought with the town again to allow us to retest and showed that others who also had this test done during that time also failed those same weeks. The long and short of it is, because of all of the delays and at this point still not being anywhere near building, we decided to walk away. It was a really hard decision. We were emotionally invested in this land and everything leading up to it felt so right. It’s hard to explain how something that feels like it was meant to be just no longer is.
With no real plan in place, we knew that our search would continue. We even questioned a few times if we should just give up this dream of wanting land, having trees and animals and instead settle for a house that would still be great for us.
Fast forward (see I told you there would be some of that going on) several months later and Eric was contacted by a former boss about an opportunity at a different company. He wasn’t in the job market or even looking at the time. This location was a lot farther from where we were but I told him it couldn’t hurt for him to explore it more. Within a few days of all of this happening a house came on the market that ticked off a lot of what we were looking for. It didn’t hurt that it was only 20 minutes away from this prospective job opportunity. There was an open house that weekend so we decided to go check it out. We ended up really liking it and realized that it might be a smart idea to stick to what we’re good at. And that is, going into houses tearing down walls, reconfiguring things and making them our own. While the thought of building something from the ground up was super exciting, I’m not sure how good I would have been just going off of floor plans. I need to walk through a space, get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. We spent well over an hour at the open house, walked the property, let the kids run around and really talked things through. We left there with the idea that Eric would go on his interview and we would take it from there. And that’s exactly what we did. The day after his interview they called him with an offer (which is a rare turn around time in his industry) and we decided to put an offer in on the house. They accepted and we were amazed at how quickly things were falling into place.
When we stop trying to work with our own timelines and let God have control it’s amazing what can happen. It isn’t always easy because remember how I mentioned I like to be in control? Yeah, not easy at all. The hardest part is saying, ok God, it’s your plan and not mine. I have to believe that He had something in the works for us well beyond what we even thought. The amazing part is, this property sits on 28 acres and already has about 100 Christmas trees on it. 25 acres might have fallen through, but He gave us even more, and even more of what our heart was desiring.
We’ve been busy doing a complete renovation, tearing out walls, reconfiguring things, and are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our plan is to plant even more trees and to have our friends and family over every year to cut one down. We’d also love to let one keep growing and maybe make it to Rockefeller Center one day. We probably wouldn’t be around to see it because a Christmas tree only grows a foot every year. But maybe it could be something our grandkids could share. We’ll eventually be building a barn and look forward to getting some animals. If you’re a frequent reader around here then you know my son A has been asking for a hedgehog. That will be something he’ll get one day. We have so many visions and dreams for this property. I would love to have a big garden (that hopefully doesn’t flop) and maybe one day have enough fresh veggies to donate to a local shelter or food pantry.
I share this story not to brag about things but to encourage anyone that feels like they are in a season of waiting to keep trusting. It definitely isn’t easy, believe me, I know that first hand. There were times I questioned things myself and had many doubts. Some of you may have read some of this and rolled your eyes, or even thought, Sierra, you sound crazy. And that’s ok. If by me sharing this can even encourage just one person then it’s all worth it.
I am so humbled and grateful for this experience and so excited to share more of this journey with all of you. I look forward to sharing more details about our renovation projects and turning our house into a home.