Turning A New Corner In Our Life Together

The response to our last blog and newsletter, telling about our upcoming move and the adventure we’ve been on for the past year has been overwhelming.  Thank you all so much for the well-wishes, notes of encouragement, questions … and requests for pictures.  We have a LOT of pictures to share!  🙂  When I get some time, I’ll try to make an album of them on one of our websites and will include the link in a newsletter issue … in the meantime, we’ll send you as many each week as we can fit in.

(If you have no clue what I’m talking about, click on the picture above to catch up.)  And, as always, click on the pictures for links to more info and even videos.  One video is of the road most of the way up to our place!  (One of the links will say it’s not working, but hang tight and it will.)

Last week, we left you having just engaged Joe Brown, our realtor, to find us some sample properties to look at.  We think the world of Joe and would highly recommend him to anyone.  He goes above and beyond, working creatively to match up the right buyers and sellers.  He has a reputation for integrity and works with a broker whose values are refreshing.  To get in touch with Joe, just click on his picture to the right.


The next time we came down to Tennessee, Joe had a few properties for us to look at.  This was mainly a fact-finding mission.  What could we expect to find in our price range?  Was there anything that fit our desire to be out away from a town, yet near enough to have a shop during tourist season?  The area we had pinpointed is popular with bikers, as it’s near the Tail of the Dragon.  People love to drive the nearby Cherohala Skyway, and it’s also a popular area for cabin rentals for families, honeymooners, and vacationers.  We wanted something with around 5 acres (or more) and near water.  (Not too difficult as it’s hard to get away from water in East Tennessee!)  We weren’t ready to buy, just wanted to get an idea.


We were especially looking for something which might need fixing up because we had a number of requirements that we knew would take money — i.e., buy a place inexpensively and make it our own.


The first place Joe took us to was literally on a ridge of a mountain!  I think that house was balanced on the ridge and I’m fairly sure that if we had 10 people stand on one side of the house, it would topple down the mountain!  🙂  The ruts in the road up there would easily have swallowed my car — thank goodness we had taken Bill’s pickup.  We all agreed this was not the right place for us.


As we were driving up to the second place on a curvy gravel road which seemed to go on forever, Joe pulled over and asked if we would like to continue on or if this was already too far out.  We had our doubts, but felt that since we had come this far, we may as well press on.  When we got there, our hearts sank.  The place was big — probably bigger than we wanted — but it looked like it was falling apart!  The electricity wasn’t on, so when we walked in, downstairs, it looked dark, small, and forbidding.  There was even bird poop in the dining room.  The house was not finished — the floors were plywood and most of the walls were still open, with strips of insulation falling out.  We knew we could rule this one out, but decided to finish the process.


Trudging up the stairs, we came into a huge, open living room!  Wow, this was actually promising!  Even without electricity, it was bright and spacious.  We noticed two sliding doors in the far corner, so we naturally headed that way.  The view we were treated to took our breath away.  I remember standing at that door, Bill walking up behind me and putting his arms around me.  I think I will always remember that moment.  We just stared at the spectacular vista.  I’m not sure I was completely sold at that point — I kept thinking, how would we get out of here if we had an emergency like a heart attack?  It looked like it might require an airlift — but Bill was certainly smitten (and not just with me).


We finally had to break way with the view of the mountains that went on forever, and looked through the rest of the house — now with a more open mind.  The bedroom had a hip roof, was large, and had a balcony looking over the front of the property.  The bathroom and a small room led to another deck overlooking the same wonderful view we had from the living room.  Wow.


As we admired all this, a neighbor came up the way to join us.  He introduced himself and explained that the house was being built by a gentleman who died from liver disease before he was able to finish it, about 7 years ago.  The wife had left everything there and deserted the house after his death.  The son was now selling the property.  This explained the furniture, clothing, and other personal items scattered throughout an otherwise deserted home.  They had been living in the house while they built it.  It wasn’t hard to imagine her distress, being up in the mountains with her husband, watching him suffer from an illness and pass away, leaving her alone in a place he hadn’t yet completed.  How heartbreaking.


http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/floridatoday/obituary.aspx?pid=153057990We later learned that James Haggas was a retired fire chief.  You can read his story by clicking on his picture.  We hope to memorialize him in some way at the house and are open to ideas.  He sounds like a wonderful man and it would have been great to know him.  His obituary mentioned that he had retired to Tennessee to live his life-long dream.


We discovered (through our own observations, as well as those of professionals we brought up to inspect before buying the house) that Mr Haggas was doing an excellent job, building the house.  He didn’t cut any corners, making the home sturdy and sound.  (Maybe that’s to be expected from a fire chief, eh?)  What looked at first glance like a house in ruins (and was listed by the selling agent as a “tear-down”) was actually in very good shape.  It looked tattered on the outside because the exposed Tyvek had been torn by the wind.  It needs to be replaced and the outside needs to be finished.


The inside is well-built so far.  The insulation is easy enough to put back in place.  Dry wall will need to be added, etc, etc.  The framework is all done for us, but enough is still not done that we can make it into what we really want.


Now, this will sound funny, but my favorite part of the house is the garage.  It’s a four-car garage … at least!  We don’t need to park our cars inside there, so why am I so excited about this?


In our adorable Little House on the Eastern Shore, every single room except the bedroom is used as work space.  Bill’s knitting machines, the small portion of yarn that he keeps inside, my painting studio and artwork, the inventory of sweaters, room for finishing and packaging … this takes up almost our entire little house.  In our new home, all of our work space can be contained in the garage (the picture here shows 1/4 of it) … and our house can be used for living!  Woohoo!  There is plenty of room for Bill to spread out his machines with great lighting … and we will put in a big window, looking out at that spectacular view so he can enjoy it while knitting.  We will have a bathroom in there, office space, a packing/shipping area, a photo studio, room for our inventory, plenty of studio room, and even space for bee stuff.


We did look at one other property.  It had two houses.  But it didn’t have the view.  It didn’t feel right.


We first saw the house in September or October and made an offer on it.  By the middle of February, it was ours!  I’ll tell you more about it in a future post … along with more pictures.  (As usual, clicking on any of the pictures in this post will take you to a link to explore further.)  Oh, and we did discover, a few months after first seeing it, that there is a fire station just three miles away from us — so no need for a helicopter after all.


Bill shares more about our planned move in his blog post this week, here.


Isaiah Cadre Journal/Discussion Questions:

  1. How have others paved the way for you, even without their intention or knowledge (like James Haggas prepared our home for us)?
  2. Have you acknowledged the sacrifice others have made in order to allow God to work His will in your life?  What could you do to thank or honor them?
  3. How does this understanding inform your ideas about God?


Enjoy this excerpt from Beauty for Ashes, which is another example of God working out His designs in mysterious ways.  (Beauty for Ashes, Copyright 2016 Alyce-Kay Ruckelshaus.  All rights reserved.)


As Beth and Kelly made popcorn in the kitchen, the other girls set up the movie and got out drinks.

Mr and Mrs Gurten looked happily on. Peggy was pleased to see Kelly smiling … and not being overwhelmed by so much activity and so many people. She had wanted to invite Matt, but when she suggested it, Kelly withdrew almost imperceptibly, so she backed away from the idea. Maybe it was better to let Matt visit Kelly alone, but it always seemed awkward and she wondered if it might be less so in a group.

Kelly had mentioned last night that she might try going to church this Sunday. Peggy didn’t say it, but she thought this was for the best. People didn’t know yet that Kelly was pregnant and it might be easiest if she started back to church before she showed.

As the girls settled down to their movie, Mr and Mrs Gurten said goodnight and headed upstairs, so they could leave Kelly and her friends alone. Kelly was snuggled up against Beth, sharing popcorn, chatting with the others, and looking almost as happy as she had before the rape.

As the movie wound down, Beth looked at the other girls, and Sheila nodded slightly.

“So have you talked to your parents yet about not staying with them?” She asked quietly.

“Yeah, actually, I did. They took it surprisingly well. I think they must have discussed the possibility that I’d want to move out, so they were prepared.”

“Do you have any plans yet?”

“Nooooo,” said Kelly, hesitantly. She was the type to always have her plans in place. Up until 6 weeks ago, she had had most of her life planned out ahead of time. The rape had sure trashed most of that. “I need to start looking for a job. Morning sickness hasn’t really helped with that. My dad said I can stay here with them as long as I want to … but a big part of it for me is being free to raise Charis the way God leads me … not the way my parents might want me to. I know I need to be out on my own, I just don’t know how yet. But,” she added, “I know God will give me the answer.”

“Welllllllll,” Sheila looked around the room at the other girls, who nodded. “We had an idea. We just came up with it today, although I think each of us had already been praying about how to be supportive of you. Anyway, it’s not completely formulated, just an idea, but we wanted to see what you thought.”

“Okay … What is it?” Kelly felt a new hope in her heart, though she also felt a little afraid of what their idea could be. Would they try to pressure her into marrying Matt?

“Mary Lynn’s going to be staying here for summer school. And I’m hoping to get a summer internship at Camarillo. We were thinking maybe you could share an apartment with us, for the summer.” Sheila smiled at Kelly, who hadn’t shown any expression yet. “Kelly?”

Kelly started. “Oh, sorry. I was just trying to figure out how close that would bring me to my due date. I’m due the next month. I’m not sure about moving to a new place at the end of the summer. Let me think about it, okay? I’m sure I could find a job soon and start saving.”

“Well, that’s part of it,” Mary Lynn jumped in. “We — all of us girls — want to pitch in and pay your share. If you want to get a job, that’s fine. It’s up to you, really. It’s important to us that we don’t run your life.”

“What we want to do,” Sheila interjected, “is give you the time and space for healing as much as possible before Charis is born. We think that’s important.”

“We’ve thrown around the idea of all six of us sharing an apartment for next school year. We could all help out with Charis,” Di added.
The room was silent for a moment as Kelly waded through the unexpected ideas that had resulted from the love and kindness of her friends.
“I – I don’t know what to say,” Kelly finally said, with tears in her eyes. “It’s so generous of you. I’m afraid of being a burden. I’m afraid of so many things.”

Finally, the tears she had been holding back for so long broke through the dam. Her friends all gathered around her, praying in their hearts, holding her, crying with her, comforting her as only sisters can do.
Peggy and Ron, reading in bed, could hear the girls talking and crying. They couldn’t hear specific words, but they felt confident that crying was a good sign. They had worried a lot about Kelly’s lack of emotion over the situation. Crying was good, and as they snuggled up to each other with their books, they each prayed in their hearts for their daughter, thanking God for her close friendships, and praying that God would also comfort Matt.

Their prayers, though unspoken, mingled together in the atmosphere. They had been married long enough and had prayed together so often that they instinctively knew what the other’s spirit was sending up to God. In fact, it wasn’t so much their own spirits. In times like this, it was the Holy Spirit interceding for them, with groanings too deep for words.

Matt, who was studying for a Greek quiz in the RA duty room at Page, and who had had surprisingly few visitors that evening, felt a peace wash over him. “I don’t know what You’re doing, Lord, but I know Kelly’s in Your hands. And that’s the best place she could be.”

As the Cadre prayed and cried and comforted their friend, God was still at work, creating the symphony that they would all have a part in. He had foreseen this long ago and had a plan, a beautiful plan, for which He had been moving people into place for many years already. No one could see His hand at work behind the scenes, but each person involved at that moment could sense that God was doing something.

A framed hymn which sat on top of the piano in the room the girls were in said it all, though none of them thought of it at the time. It was a poem which had been penned over 200 years before by William Cowper, a man who had suffered much during his life, but had seen God work, even through those times. Ron Gurten had studied it in a literature class at Westmont many years ago, and it had meant so much to him that he had had it framed.


God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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