So here’s the story.
Stephen and I got married in 2011. He moved in with me to a little house in the city that I bought while I was in college about 3 years earlier. At the time I liked city life… I grew up in a smaller town so being in a bigger city so close to everything felt novel, I guess.
Then we started having kids and our dreams slowly changed. We became best friends with a couple we led worship with at church, but they lived the next county over, out in the country on some acreage owned by the husband’s parents.
My friend is the one who really first got me into natural living, herbal remedies, and the like. The more I dove into it, the more passionate about it I became. We started to spend a lot of time dreaming together about starting our own little homesteading community. One night as we were all hanging out in the living room of their tiny trailer, they told us they really wanted to gift us 1 of the 5 beautiful acres they would eventually receive as part of their personal inheritance. They wanted us to be neighbors and homestead together.
We thought we knew what we were doing.
But did you know that surveying, getting utilities, and building a house on raw land costs money? 😂
AND… we were determined to build our own homestead debt free, using reclaimed materials. During this time, our husbands spent hundreds of hours tearing down old barns for no pay, just so that we could have the barn wood to build our houses with. (That’s where our “Rock City” sign came from.)
So… in 2013 or 2014, our friend’s next-door neighbor (who also happened to be the husband’s brother) decided to sell his house on 1 acre. Our friends were so ready to get out of their trailer that they started thinking about buying it, so we ended up walking through it with them. It was such a cute house, and I was so excited for them, but l also remember just wishing that WE could buy it and start living out here. They ended up offering on it what they could, and it was actually a better offer than the one the sellers chose (that’s a whole other story). The property ended up being sold to a single guy who let his goats and chickens run all over the house 😆
Then in late 2014 my parents [not-so] randomly decided it may be time to sell the house I grew up in, the one that we all thought was their forever home. So, they came across a property that connected to the one we wanted… not ever intending to move out here specifically, but God. He just lined it up so perfectly.
Ready to move
So now, we’re still stuck in the city, my parents were out here living our dream, and none of us really had any money… but we were chomping at the bit.
We got to the point where we had pretty much stored up enough reclaimed materials for our future house, and the surveyor was scheduled to go and mark off the land so it could be properly deeded. So we talked ourselves into going ahead and listing our current house, moving in with my parents for a few months and saving the rest of the money we would need to build.
I think I convinced Stephen that since we wouldn’t be paying a mortgage and utilities, it would only take 3-6 months before we were able to get something built that we could move into. But I was very wrong.
We listed our house in October of 2015 and it went under contract almost immediately. So we started getting ready to move.
The snowball effect
We got out here with my parents, and I guess one could say things started going downhill…
The contract on our house fell through immediately after we moved in with my parents. Then, less than 2 months after that, we found out I was pregnant with our third (our only real surprise baby).
The surveyor kept pushing back the date/being a no-show.
I wasn’t able to help with our real estate business as much being pregnant and already having 2 toddlers, and deal after deal kept falling through—which meant no income for us.
Our house sat on the market for another several months, and by the time we finally sold it, we were on the brink of foreclosure. Making very little off the sale, we weren’t at all in a position of being able to move forward with the construction of our new home.
But even if we could, it wouldn’t have mattered because we still didn’t technically own any land. 😆
Things were going a bit haywire.
None of this was anyone’s fault, we were just having issues with the surveyor and the county. Our friends were struggling with the whole situation as well, raising 4 small children in a singlewide trailer that was literally falling apart.
The Lord was testing our faith.
2016 was honestly a blur. It was during that year that we moved to exclusively having house church at my parents, since my dad was the pastor. There were some new families coming in to the fold that were our age and shared our desire to learn how to homestead, which was cool. But none of us had the land to do it yet.
Stephen got another full time job in addition to real estate, our third son was born, and we knew that at this point our plans for a house and homestead was in God’s hands…
We had three kids under 5, living in 2 tiny bedrooms in my parents house.
Then, at the end of that year, we found out my dad had esophageal cancer.
A crazy change
Near the beginning of 2017, our friends got a chance to buy the husband’s parents’ personal house + 5 acres at a crazy discounted price. It would eliminate their need to build and get them moved much quicker.
We were excited for them… but what about us? It would have been basically impossible for us to get an acre of that tract we could actually build on, because of the way it was laid out.
They were asking the same questions and they spent some time praying about what to do. Then, within a couple of weeks, we got some very unexpected news…
The guy that had bought the house next door to our friend’s trailer (the one I had wished we could buy a few years prior) wanted to sell, after only being here for a year and a half.
And it was nestled right in between where our friends currently were, and the house they were now considering buying. On one perfectly flat acre, with an amazing lake view.
Problem was, we had no idea how we were going to get it with not even enough money for a decent down payment. And even if we did, we really wanted to convince the seller to owner finance.
Then, I kid you not, a few days later we got a check in the mail for exactly what we would need for a 25% down payment. A relative of mine had passed away a few months earlier, and she had left that money for me in a trust.
Things were falling into place, fast, and not the way we expected. My dad was actually getting better and by summer of 2017, he got report that there had been “complete resolution” of his tumor.
It took some convincing, but we got the seller to owner finance with some amazing terms. He didn’t want to move right away, so we set our closing date for 3 months out.
The end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
In September of that year, we found out Dad’s cancer had come back, and this time it was even more aggressive. We prayed for healing, but it didn’t come in the way we expected it to.
For our friends, there were a lot of hoops to jump through with surveying and getting a loan. After everything, we ended up closing on our new homes within a week of each other, near the end of 2017.
And about a week after that, Dad passed away.
His death changed me in ways I can’t even fully explain. It’s also what spurred me into this music journey.
Over the last 5 years that we’ve been on this property, our church community has grown, and other friends have bought land that either connects or is very close by.
So, yes, my best friends are my neighbors. We literally had a big community garden on my mom’s property the last couple of years. We see each other multiple times a week and help raise each other’s children.
But the dream didn’t come easy, and there’s always more growth to be had.