14 December 2009

A Sense of Place

This is the house we lived in for two years...

It was a humble farm house, but it was
 my dream house.  

It was one of those funny old farmhouses that was added onto again and again as it was needed. 

      And once, someone cut into the back of the house and added a stairway that just dropped down in front of you when you opened two bedroom doors on either side of it. 

We were sure that someone would fall down those stairs, but nobody ever did. 

Our toddler had a unique method of going down those old stairs. He'd plop himself down on his belly feet first and thump-thump-thump all the way down to the turn in the landing and then go the rest of the way. That back staircase was carpeted and was the most used. 

The house had a beautiful front staircase as well. We didn't live in that house long enough to change anything and I didn't really have time since I had a new baby when we moved in and was homeschooling three others.

It sat very close to the road, but we didn't seem to notice because we had five acres that were long and skinny. 

There were old buildings to explore and a huge old barn. People used to stop and take photos of the barn because it was unique. We always said we needed to fix up that barn.

 All around us was farmland and even though the interstate was close by, we felt that we were in the middle of nowhere. Whenever we went to church or town, we drove through a beautiful state park. 

I remember thanking God for letting us live there.

Then we had to move......a new job offer over 800 miles away......and we were gone.
I was very sad to leave. 
I used to drive by it when we would return for visits. Once, I even found out it was for sale, but we weren't moving and I didn't have money lying around to buy real estate. 

When we did move back a little over a year ago, it was listed for an exorbitant amount because they wanted to sell to a developer. The agent told me that the house had no value and was in terrible shape. I couldn't believe it. 
I hadn't been gone that long! That house was in wonderful shape when I left it.

While I lived there, I did my first "house research". I found an old photograph of it in a newspaper. I found that the original plat of land (160 acres) was bought by a woman which was very unusual for the time.
 The house was built in the early 1800s. At one point in its early history, two brothers lived there and they took in their 12 year old niece after the death of her parents. She lived there until she was a very old woman.  She never married because she was convinced that the men only wanted her money. 

 Two other families owned it after her before we bought it. And other than a two year old and a baby, there were no other children who lived there until we moved in. 

It was a child's dreamland.

We had a yard sale after we moved in and an elderly man came and told me that he used to work on that farm. He threshed wheat in the big old barn. The building we were standing near had a belfry and I asked him what it had been used for. He told me there were long tables in it and that is where the threshers would eat their meals. They would ring the bell as a signal. He told me that the barn had never been painted as far back as he could remember.

In the short time we lived there, our children ran and played and worked and laughed and learned. It was a time of contentment for me.

 Such memories!

 Like the time the riding lawn mower broke down and we we let part of the large yard grow up and I looked out the kitchen window and saw my children pretending they were the Ingalls family out on the prairie. 
Or the time the kitten climbed up the tree to the porch roof outside my bathroom window and couldn't get down and I had to take out the window screen in the middle of the night to rescue it. 

Then there was the sourdough bread baking days.....dozens and dozens of loaves of that wonderful bread. The very best place for it to raise was in an upstairs bedroom closet that surrounded the chimney in the center of the house, 
so I just knocked the socks off the shelf and lined up the bread pans. 

One day my son looked down and there was an old civil war coin lying on top of the dirt in a shed. My husband investigated and after a little while, had managed to dig up an entire pot-bellied stove that was nearly as tall as he was. Unfortunately, he would not let me take it with us when we moved.

Blackberries grew on the back fence behind the barn, and we had apple trees and pear trees.
 The outhouse was a hoot because the old "instructions" were still there nailed to the wall.....and the wreath on the garden shed was home to nests of baby birds.  

We cut lilacs from the largest bush I'd ever seen and in the fall I introduced my children to the persimmons that fell in the driveway.
 Our oldest son faithfully kept the woodbox full in the winter. 

One day we heard a ruckus on the roof. We discovered a goose who had landed there, obviously separated from the rest of his friends. He was honking and honking. I grabbed the video camera and video taped the SOS call.

Sadly, I do not have photographs of all of the rooms in the house. I wish I had taken them when we left the house in the capable hands of our real estate agent. 

That would be wonderful to see.


The house........

is gone.

Bought by a developer.

Burned to the ground to make way for new houses.

This world is not my home. 
I know this.

My Father's House is eternal, permanent, and perfect.  
I know this as well.

But, for me...
for the time I have been here...
out of the eleven houses I have lived in...
this was "home".

It was a time when all of my children were small...

When I was living close to friends...

When I could enjoy a slower pace of living...

Where the views from every window were peaceful...

It is the house I always talk about...

It is the house I entertained thoughts of owning again.

It is strange what gives a person that feeling of "being home". 
Certainly we were not there long enough for any of our children to be much attached to it. 

The next house we lived in, we were in for 12 years......it was a beautiful newer house, surrounded by two acres of idyllic woodland for children to run and play in. That is the place where our children were "raised". 

Today, I live in an old house full of history and secrets to be discovered, but it does not feel like home. I know a lot about the original occupants of this current house, but it does not feel like "my house".

The "Wilmington Road House" was my house. 
If anything can be said to belong to me since I am a pilgrim just camping here and there until I get Home.

I have pieces of it with me today......taken before we moved away.......bits of the old post and beam barn with handcarved wooden pegs......glass inkwell and bits of pottery dug from a fence row.....old button shoes found in the top of a small barn.... the old waterpump that stood in one of the four cisterns......memories......a sense of belonging......a sense of appreciation for the handpainted closet doors and wonderment of who chose the old cheesecloth-backed wallpaper that was in the press (closet)...

....but most of all,

I have with me, still,

 a Sense of Place.

 My place...in this world...
as a happy wife.....
and happy mother...
of happy children.

*I recently drove past the place of my favorite house. I thought maybe there would be a brand new subdivision.  A year or so ago, I went past there and there was only overgrown field grass covering my memories. Now a farmer is planting corn. The land is still waiting for a developer.  I am in a place that it would have been possible to buy it again, were it still standing....and yet, that was not God's plan.  So we drove the youngest kids past there and told them about when their older siblings were young and the adventures they had in that place.  It felt as if we were there once again as we told them about it....


  1. I am crying!!!

    I know i was little when we lived there...but... that house is in all my childhood memories! This is because when we moved to Louisiana i felt grown up... This sickens me to see those pictures of it burnt down! i feel like someone died!

    I remember having my birthday party and dressing up like princessess...i remember crawling in the tall overgrown grass and tying the long peices together like it was a tunnel... I remember when tommy painted my room and my beautiful baby doll :( {which i still have, red paint and all} i remember when you would take us way back in the back and we saw the huge mounds of dirt and you told us the history... and we learned about the indians that day,

    i remember when i kept stepping on the mushrooms that were growing in the side yard. and my favorite i remember when we tried to ice skate on the small crick.... i even have a horse shoe that was found in that big ole' barn...still :) I remember when that stranger came to our front door and asked if he could hunt on our land... i Love the memories of the smell of your sourdough bread and the times you let me help...

    I remember hating that there was a window in the bathroom window downstairs... i was always afraid someone would see... I even remember the time i got in trouble for faking needing pepto bismal just because i liked the way it tasted (dont ask me why)...
    and one of the sad moments when Oreo ran away while we were in Indiana... i remember being heart broken!

    i LOVED it when we ate in the dining room... that room was always so special and intriguing...
    I loved waking you and daddy up just so i could snuggle in between you when you were downstairs with that brass bed...
    And my most favorite memory: when we were upstairs on that old blue speckled couch reading the secret garden, anne of green gables, and so many other books you read to us till your throat was hoarse...
    and i remember waking up at the crack of dawn so that daddy could read my bible story book before he went to work... I wish i still got up that early....
    i loved that house!
    i hate that this happened to it! it was full of so much love! from you, and dad, and all the memories it held...

    There are even more memories that old house held for me... but im afraid if i keep rambling i wont be able to paste this comment....
    But i cry with you! I hate that you had to see that!

  2. I know...you were so very little.....you thought you were grown up when we left, but you only six years old. What a memory for a six year old!

    I remember that the first time we drove up to look at the house, you said..."Can we buy it daddy? Please? This is my house."

  3. You painted such a beautiful picture that my heart sunk when I saw what had happened...we are too busy, too needy, and know too much....I continue to get more uncomfortable here...just as it should be!

  4. Ahhhh, I loved it! Really love the picture with the kids playing dress up in the yard...beautiful. I'm so sorry that it's gone! The great thing is that you and your children still have so many memories of being together at that home! God Bless!

  5. Okay ya made me cry. I am so sorry this beautiful home is gone. So sad.

  6. Thanks Deborah for sharing your fond memories of that old farm house. Life has a tendency to change and sometimes circumstances takes us away from our comfort zone. I grew up in a 3 bedroom home with 1 bathroom supporting 9 children and a set of parents. As you shared a sense of place that really matters is with God because everything else is temporary.

  7. Oh, you made me cry, too! I truly understand. So thankful for the assurance that this world is not really our home, that a better place is awaiting, where we truly will feel we belong and all will be perfect.

    When my two oldest were quite young (4 and 2 when we left), we had a home that we were preparing to buy on a rent-to-own kind of arrangement. We almost had the money for real escrow when life threw us a curve ball, as they say, and we had to move.

    Someone did purchase the place later, and when we went by one day to see it, our precious home (an old single-wide mobile) had been drug off into our garden -- which in spite of the hours and months we had spent beautifying it, was once again a rocky desert wasteland. Like you, I'm not sure what makes a certain place feel so much more like home than others... but I am eager to see what Heaven will be, for it must surpass our greatest dreams and fondest memories. <3

    1. I think it is the very fact that this is NOT our home that gives us such a desire to have a place where we belong. We keep searching for that place or we find it for a little while...but it is not permanent.....and yet, we have the memories, don't we....and to me, (I am truly an old house junkie) it is about the stories of the people who walked those rooms....they were created by God...they had a story....they left things behind....the old button shoes....but ink well....living, breathing people lived lives....to me that is what is important......someday, I will finish up my current house research and write the book about the family who lived in this place where I am typing...because ....they made a difference in this world...as do all of us.

    2. Yes, and it's so neat how you got such a deep glimpse into that bigger picture. Sometimes I think about how God sees and cares about all those details of all of our lives... and how it must make Him feel to take it all in....

  8. Now that is seriously sad that your beautiful home no longer stands, however I love how you tied it all in with our forever home in heaven that will never fade away! Great insights and I enjoyed reading a little of your history.

    1. Thank you, Jeannie....God keeps pulling my chin up so I will see that there is more to come....I tend to get focused in the wrong places....

  9. I loved your farmhouse, and sad for you that it is now gone. We can so easily get attached to earthly things. Thanks be to God that this world is not our home.

  10. Of course you made me cry! What a beautiful memory!!!! We had a house like that :) My babies, who are now 8 and 6 were 4 and 2 when we lived there. It was 'home' in so many ways, I envisioned my grandbabies playing in that bathtub! And we lived there for two years before we moved. I know you read my post about weariness and our home.... that was the only home we flt 'home' in and the only one we have lived in for that long since my husband and I have been married. I really can't imagine having 'that' house back, since our kids are bigger and there are more of them, our needs have changed. But my heart SO longs for a home like the one you described... not perfect to anyone but us, but our 'home'. I want to live in it for a long period of time, a place for my babies to grow up and become adult in. A place where our Christmas tree can be put up in the same place for at least two years.
    Also, THANK YOU for the reminder that our earthly homes although they carry so much weight on us, are not our eternal homes. Thank you for that sense of unattachment to earthly posessions. I've had to learn that the hard way as well! I really have enjoyed your posts and you sharing your heart!!! This post is absolutely beautiful!

    1. I'm glad to have met a kindred spirit, Stacy. Thanks for reading.