To say that the move to the new (very old) farmhouse has been difficult would be a gross understatement. Much to my (Joy's) disappointment, it has been grueling, brutal, and overwhelming. I've told myself time and time again that we've made plenty of moves in the past and can surely handle this one with grace, enthusiasm, and vigor, only to find myself once again at the Father's feet begging for a second wind to help me get through this most difficult move.
Over the years we had perfected our move in/move out technique and had been successful with the last few moves at being completely unpacked and settled in 48 hours. I knew this time things would be different but I had no idea how different.
Moving into a home still in the construction phase would be difficult but factoring in the adjustments of living in an old, very old, home just about wiped me out. Blindly feeling my way through the rooms in search of the pull chains that turn on the lights, learning to live with clever mice who avoid every attempt at being trapped while chewing holes in clothing in the laundry area, and retrieving drinking water from the bathtub were all adjustments for which I was unprepared.
As I fell into bed each night, I continued to hope that eventually it would get better. That is, until the bubble that held all my hope burst last week.
From the very beginning of learning that this old farmhouse would be God's destination for us, I have envisioned completion of the projects needing to be done that would make me feel like it was a suitable house. Many of my target projects had to be revised as the reality set in of rehabilitating a 100 year old, abandoned farmhouse. Yet I still held out hope that the exterior projects would make the home look loved, cared for, and primarily inhabited!
Most upsetting to me was the green metal roof with peeling paint and rust being its most defining attributes. As people would need to come to the farm for various reasons, I always told them to look for the run down, overgrown farm with the rusting, peeling green metal roof. However, I held out hope that this defining eyesore would soon be remedied. At first I hoped that we could afford to have it painted professionally. That hope was replaced by imagining that the bigger boys could paint it. Once I began living here though and saw the exhausting list of real projects requiring their attention around the farm, I realized I certainly couldn't ask them to enter my world of decorating dilemmas by expecting them to paint the roof. So I concluded that the project would have to become my own.
I talked with Elliott and Oliver about where I might find the necessary tools: the pressure washer, a very tall ladder, and scaffolding. My enthusiasm was met with their reluctance as they both told me that our pressure washer was so powerful, it would throw me off the roof the instant I pulled the trigger. I told them I'd figure out a solution and simply asked if all the tools I needed were here at the farm.
I began to plot, plan, and envision the finished project. First I'd paint the roof, then reglaze the windows while I had the ladder and scaffolding in place. Then the younger boys and Meredith could join me as we painted the porch with all its wooden railing. Last of all, Meredith and I could wash the very cloudy, dirty windows that had been overlooked for generations. Then, I could live here with some sense of completion, and pride. I wouldn't have to describe my home as the "most forsaken farm on the road".
Last week I finally shared the details of my upcoming project with Timmy. It seemed he barely heard my strategy when he bluntly said, "You can't pressure wash or paint the roof." At first I thought he was challenging my ability to complete the task but then he made it perfectly clear: he wasn't allowing me to do it! He was forbidding me! He mumbled something about the danger and the certainty of broken bones but I quickly told him my plan to tie myself off with a rope to the beds in each of the rooms for safety. He didn't seem persuaded by my well thought out strategy. In fact, he ended the conversation by saying that I'd have to adjust to the roof because it wouldn't be changing any time soon. What?! I can't live in a forsaken house indefinitely! It's not who I am! I like clean. I like finished. I like pretty. Is it not enough that I've had to make the difficult adjustment of living in a pre-indoor plumbing interior with one closet-sized add-on bathroom, a kitchen with major water issues, no air conditioning, and one plug-in electrical outlet per room?! Can't I at least have a nice exterior?
Sadly, the bursting bubble left my family with one very cranky, discontented Mama. I talked with the Lord, for what seemed like the one hundredth time about changing my outlook and helping me accept the house He chose for our provision.
As I prayed, God reminded me of a quote I once heard Elisabeth Elliot recite: "In acceptance lies peace." I pondered, "If I will just accept the roof and die to the kind of house I'd like to live in, the problem will be solved." Then, in one God-strengthened moment, I did it! I accepted it. This is my roof. This is my green, rusty, metal roof. And this is my peeling, rotten wooden porch. This is my white metal siding that has turned gray from weathering. These are my metal shutters, faded from a century of sun, popping out of their frames from years of neglect. This is where I live. Yes. This is my home.
In that instant, it seemed the house flies stood still, none buzzing around me trying to find a place to land, while I breathed in a fresh breath of peace that comes only through acceptance. Suddenly, I was filled with renewed energy and strength. I pillowed my head that night envisioning how I could decorate my porch and begin living here (and liking it here) just like it is.
I awoke Saturday morning excited to begin decorating my newly accepted home exterior. I scrounged through the old barns, finding one treasure after another. I marveled throughout the day that a month of discontentment with the old farmhouse's exterior had so quickly been replaced through the simple act of acceptance. Yes, even with green, peeling, rusty metal roofs, in acceptance lies peace.