Front yard in summer
Like you, I think my yard is beautiful even if it is a lot of work. That fence which goes around two sides of our property has bushes, greenery, and such which all need attention each spring and a little throughout the summer and fall. Not to mention the area around the deck and near the house... all put in by previous owners for our enjoyment today.
One small section of the fence line
Hubby has to fix the wooden fence off and on throughout the year, there are no less than four places this year to fix. I call it "mending the back forty". Then there is the grass mowing and we're (I think) the only family of our immediate neighbors who do not have a riding lawn mower... and we have the largest amount of lawn. Keeps hubby in shape!
Building the raised bed garden Year 1
Our addition (so far) is the building of the raised bed garden. It must be enclosed by simple fencing due to the rather large amount of critters who... in past growing seasons... assumed I had planted a buffet for their pleasure. We will be adding another raised bed in the garden this year and hope to expand it in future seasons.
View from my front porch in summer
I have written many times about God's provision of this house. I can assure you there is hardly a week go by that I walk onto the porch and through the front door without thanking Him or look around as I'm reading on the sofa and feeling so safe and comfy and cozy in my home.
Front porch 2008
There are rare times when I miss the big home we had to give up many years ago after a "year with no income". Mostly what I miss is having plenty of room when people come over (especially having a large family room and a formal dining room which had doors I could shut after setting the table).
I miss being able to get away to the master bedroom on the second floor and not hearing what is going on in the rest of the house. I miss the huge finished basement with the extra room I used as a pantry. I don't miss cleaning it.
Why didn't God just intervene so we didn't have to sell our former house (at a loss after paying Realtor fees)? I don't know and I learned long ago not to even attempt to figure out how God works.
My neighbor's barn made closer by the camera lens
However, I love... love... love my small-ish house at the edge of the forest (small-ish house... big yard). Each morning I look out the front window and see my neighbor's lovely red barn in the distance. It makes me feel I'm way out in the country, even though I'm not only at the edge of a forest, I'm at the edge of a rather large neighborhood of homes.
Our dogwood in bloom
Our purchase of this home came after a time of great distress, when we moved back home with no money but lots of faith and God provided each day (many times at the last moment). We lived in a hotel room for a few months and then were able to move into a townhouse surrounded by drug dealers, meth lab, and drunks.
It was in a strange location as this one bad apartment-townhouse complex was at the corner of one of the nicest neighborhoods in town (can we say absent landlord?). All three of us enjoyed getting our daily exercise by walking in that neighborhood.
God had already shown me in decades past that we were to be salt and light where He planted us and I really did try to do my best, showing my neighbors love and kindness as well as fixing up our place to be pretty. There was a huge trash container by each door when you entered the townhouses but I found a pretty bench to set under our window and kept flowers on it. We cannot choose our circumstances but God taught me that we can choose our attitude within those circumstances.
So... how did we get our house in the country? Well... I almost died. Uh... huh. It's amazing how God works. My husband had been fired from his job at Lowe's but was still in denial about being able to work. I ended up in the emergency room and intensive care as a result of the diabetes and it was a wake up call to my husband that he had to do something.
It was a very hard decision for us to have him apply for Disability. It's a long story but he did apply and was accepted immediately due to his life long paper trail of dealing with his illness and the realization he was getting worse. Also, since he had already attempted another job besides engineering (working at Lowe's) and not being able to handle it... he was accepted the first time he applied.
About the house... before the Disability checks started, we had to get assistance to pay utilities and we ended up at the Salvation Army offices. The woman there heard our story (and said we should be teaching people how to budget with little and no income, hehehe) and told us about a United States Department of Agriculture program which we qualified for now that he was on Social Security Disability.
It was a program which helped low income families purchase houses in rural areas. It was beyond my wildest dreams (I often prayed that all I wanted was a home of my own again) but it eventually did happen. We were able to purchase a home first because of the special USDA program and second... my husband had kept in constant contact with our few creditors as to what was going on in our life when we would get behind on bills. Also, he wrote a letter to the various credit agencies explaining our financial circumstances.
Now, another important fact that helped us purchase this particular house... we live in a part of the United States where rural (non-farming) land is still quite reasonable. Our house payment, taxes, and insurance combined on this house each month was less than the rent we were paying for a small townhouse in a very scary environment "in town".
I think one of the reasons I loved Goudge's books so much was she understood what I feel about houses and homes. I feel such a connection to the families who lived in this house before me, each one adding something significant to the house... the young family who lived here before us in particular. My family enjoys each day the fruit of their labor in making a simple ranch style home something special.
Our journey has been very difficult at times and for some reason, God did not choose to heal my husband. Quite the opposite, I developed a chronic illness and both of my children suffer from the same environmental allergies (thankfully, not to the extent he has them).
Just this week, he had to cancel plans already made as he cannot function do to the spring mold allergies (among others). He is having a difficult time getting out of bed (the severe environmental allergies make his brain swell).
This house... to me... is a little down payment on Heaven. It was the Father saying He understood my longing for Home and he made a way for me to have the desire of my heart... in the midst of difficult circumstances. He tells us that in this world we will have tribulation... we do still live in a fallen world. I believe we have an enemy of our souls who wars against us in this world. It isn't Heaven, yet.
Yet, in the midst of it all... He speaks. Somehow and somewhere... He lets each of us know we are not alone or forgotten. In my case, it was the provision of a home at the edge of a forest... across from a lovely red barn.
Whatever your story, you are part of His Story and you can know whatever the present circumstances look like, there is absolutely nothing impossible with Him. When I sit on my deck in warm weather or autumn, under the red umbrella, sipping morning coffee or afternoon tea... I am reminded that miracles happen if we keep our heart open and do not allow bitterness to enter our soul.