Buying a home while selling a home is a scary, limbo-ing process. If you've ever done it, you'll know exactly the position I'm in right now. Our house went on the market April 3rd. By April 4th, we had 3 contracts and were counting. We, meaning Freddie, I and the dog and cats, pretty much lived in my car for 4 straight days over the course of 17 showings and an open house. It was crazy! And exciting.
For me, that kind of exposure and recognition for my design was confirmation for me that I had done a great job with our homestead, making this house feel like home to each and every person that walked through that door. But then again, hospitality is not only my degree (or a portion of it) but also my gift. And I love that God gave me that. Everyone always says my house(s) have made them feel at peace, welcomed and warm. That is my heart's greatest desire in serving others.
If you've known me for any length of time, you've known that ultimately, my dream and vision was to buy a farm BNB (short for bed and breakfast). Shoot, for that matter it is one of my 10 dreams and goals in my Start Today Journal by Rachel Hollis. Most days, I wake up and write 1. I am (still) an exceptional wife. 2. I am a great mom. 3. I own a farm BNB. This BNB is like no other, however. It's just how I make it make sense to the world.
For years, I have written essays, business plans, and drawn out vision for this elaborate, God-sized dream of mine. It's a place of refuge, restoration, community, animals of course, and an authentic farm-experience. It hosts occasional small business farmer's markets, seasonal events, weddings, and goat yoga- because duh! It is the heart of JPF. I figured I'd achieve this dream by maybe age 35. Well friends, I'm 30 in just 13 days- ahhh! In 5 years, based on where our business is now, that's achievable for me.
As we decided not to proceed with our first house find, we felt a tug on our hearts. Nothing was quite special. I mean there are some gorgeous homes, some great fixer uppers, but nothing truly felt like home. And the place we had found prior, no farm animals were allowed. My sister thought it was hysterical that Freddie and I literally refused to look at another house where birds were a no-go. But, y'all we love our chickens and especially our ducks. And Joel knew how much I longed to have goats! Shoot our family calendar... it's a goat calendar from one of our market vendors.
I'd find myself scrolling the realtor app over and over. Nothing. Everything was under contract. It's the height of buying and selling homes season. Oh and our house closes next week! Thankfully our buyers are super sweet, and we already have a friendship with them and they are very understanding that we've had no place to call home just yet.
This morning our church service was amazing to say the least. We had a guest pastor and he talked about how we shouldn't live our lives in an instagram-version, highlight reel. You see, instagram and social media focuses on the good. We see the ending, the happily ever after version. We don't see the battle. We don't see the struggle. I could be real fake with you all and at the end of this buying process... be like look here's the prize, making it look super easy. But I also have on my list of dreams and goals to be authentic in my pursuit of business. I want you to know it hasn't been easy. It's been hard.
So, as uncomfortable as it will make some people feel for me to put it all out there, I have to be vulnerable in my faith. I don't have to make it happen. I just have to follow the path before me. This week, while waiting to be told that another offer we had put in on a house was rejected, God gave me something to cling to; mind you I have been talking to God, I have been doing a devotional with Freddie, but I really haven't dug in, in months until this day, if I'm honest.
"It will be a long time. Therefore, build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce." Jeremiah 29:5
Up to this point, I had been looking for something temporary, to get us by for a few years. Our price range isn't something to envy. And I refuse to live beyond my means. I'm now, after taking care of Joel for 5+ years, fully self-employed and reliant fully on God. Scary and hopefully expectant all at once. I figured maybe in 5 years time, I could focus my efforts on saving for this farm dream. But that very same night, in the wee hours before I closed my eyes, I stumbled on a brand new listing. Something that my wildest dreams couldn't convey. The next morning I met God again at our kitchen island. And he spoke, again. His Word is living and active, y'all.
"because God's power is so great, all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to turn nothing into anything He wants to do through you." -Unseen, Priscilla Shrier
"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:23-24
You may remember the little red barn that Joel painted for you all when he was trying to help save up for a down payment on this farm. What you may not know is what that painting means to us. We were married in Greer, SC at a big red barn. In my dream, there's an old white historic farmhouse and a little red barn. That's what God gave me to cling to for as long as I can remember. Seriously, since the days I was a teenager watching Gilmore Girls, I've wanted to own a place that felt like my version of the Dragonfly Inn.
Joel and I found a place in Kentucky last Fall. I wrote a 50 page business plan to save a failing BNB. After Joel passed, I found a note that he had written to himself that "Kentucky was the breakthrough". He was speaking about his depression, but also about something mysterious that I wish I could sit and talk with him about now. I can't know exactly what he meant by that. He and I and Freddie made plans to transition our life to Kentucky in January, just after Christmas and his eye surgery. I spent a week spelling out every last detail of that business plan and how I planned to take it from in the red $40k each year to the black. They didn't bite. I haven't a clue why they didn't respond for over a week. It was brilliant, but they just wanted someone to come and buy them out. Or at least put $200,000 down on it. For a girl who wasn't allowed, by the standards of Joel's healthcare, to have more than $2,000 in my bank account, that wasn't possible. Also, remember we didn't know we would lose Joel at the exact time we had planned to move to the rolling hills. God knew.
This wasn't the first time I didn't get picked. I had also tried to take over a BNB in Maine. I had drew out the floor plan of the little market and kitchen area. Again, not mine.
We see the seed, we plant the seed, but we don't see is the growth before it ever manages to have a breakthrough on the earth. It grows beneath the earth, with strong roots before it ever sprouts. And when it sprouts, it is not time to harvest. And even when the leaves are green, the fruit does not bare. We know about the seed and we expect the harvest, but time... dreaded time. We forget and often neglect what God is doing in the meantime. We begin to doubt, try to logically and strategically take control of what we can in our own power and strength.
35 seems doable for me but 30... would be a move of God!
When Joel left this earth, I won't lie, I felt shafted. I chased that boy for 10 years y'all. 10!!! Then I got just 5 years with him. 5 was not enough for me, in my flesh. I reached a point I felt forgotten. It brings tears to my eyes to think about that pain. But I wasn't. I just didn't see what God was doing below the surface. I knew He was there. I knew He was doing something. But, I couldn't put my finger on it. So I waited.
Call me silly, but I like to think that when Joel got hooked on making that Kentucky dream happen for me, he was set on it. Call me crazy thinking I could turn a failing business right side up, expand my business, take care of him and farm... and a teenager (adopt a teen- I couldn't do this with a little). But he believed in me. I think when Joel finally decided that he wanted to be healed; he was set on it too. I think he knew it was time. It was time for him not to struggle anymore and it was time for me to live the dream God placed on my heart. I like to think he sat with God and said, "I know you can and I know you will take care of my wife, but could you do me a favor? Could you give her that farm you put in her heart?"
And God said, "I already did." You see, long before I was ever thought of, God had a plan. This ministry, this revival, this aching inside of me that longs to bring families and local business to thriving... He set that in my heart. Before I took my first breath, God knew that I would be scrolling through that realtor app and be the first to find this place. I share this with you not because we have the keys in hand. We are not at the finish line. In fact the moment that key is in my hand, we go to WORK! Hard work.
We have a contract on this property. And it's perfect. It's not something I could have done in my own power, not by my might. Only something God could do. Something God would do for me, but ultimately for Him. I cannot wait to see the future of JPF unfolds to be. I cannot even fathom what it will be, but my husband left me signs that this... this was the place.
JPF Family, I'm asking you to pray with us. Pray for the future of JPF. Pray for our obedience to follow God in this pursuit. That our hearts would hear the things God has in store, to prepare them and love and serve people for Him. Pray and believe with us for this land, for which God has had on my heart as my life's calling.
If I have anything for you, it's this from Joel:
Never give up, all things are possible.
Here's to growing,