Termites, Tents, and Patches

We moved Memorial Day weekend. Packed the truck Saturday, drove Sunday, and arrived late Memorial Day evening. We unloaded all of our belongings into the outbuildings the next day, and spent the next week living in a hotel, and trying to figure out where to start. 

The first thing at the very top of our list turned out to be the termites. Evidently they are quite common in this area, especially for older houses - so it wasn't all that surprising that the little critters had begun munching on our house after sitting empty for a few years. It was vital that we put a stop to them as quickly as possible. 

The way to get rid of termites involves sealing off the entire house with a massive tent, and then pumping the tent full of toxic termite-destroying gas. The termite man just happens to live around the corner from us, and upon meeting him, I found him strangely reminiscent of General Lee. He had a short white mustache and beard, and he talked with a very slow Southern drawl (sometimes foregoing the occasional 'r') and for someone so pesticidal, he really couldn't have had a kinder disposition.

(So maybe he looked less like Robert E. Lee, 
and more like Robert Duvall portraying Robert E. Lee...)

We left the neighborhood for the 24 hours that were needed, but not before stopping by the old house - just to see what it looked like completely draped in big black tarps. It was definitely something to see. The next morning, we received a heart-sinking phone call from General Lee (or at least his termite-killing doppelgänger). Evidently the neighbor right behind us had pinned a note to the tent, stating that she was missing a few cats, and a litter of kittens. She believed that they might be under the house, and requested that we bring the bodies to her if we found any... 

The tent

Later that day, the tent came off, and true to our fears - there was indeed a cat under the house. Thankfully only one, and no sign of kittens, but we had killed a cat. (Thankfully the kittens turned out to be safe elsewhere.) The termite man was truly devastated - he said he hadn't slept at all the night before, he felt so awful about it. But, he placed the said cat's remains in a bag behind the garage, and forgot about delivering it by the time he went home. So that sad task was left to my dad and brother. They dreaded it... "Hi, we're your new neighbors - here's your dead cat" was not at all our planned introduction. But, by the time Dad dug a hole, and Joe found a suitable box, and "Patches" was given a proper burial - we had two very special new friends. 

The cat's owner is a very sweet middle-aged lady who lives with her mother who is halfway through her 80's. She is truly the neighborhood patron of feral cats, and has gradually tamed many of them. Thankfully she still had numerous other ones about, but Patches had been a special favorite. Since then, she as well as her mother (who likes to be called "Bit") have become some of our dearest, most treasured friends. They are such a blessing to us.  We never know when Bit will show up at our backdoor with her walker for a visit. 

And that's how termites, General Lee, and poor Patches all had a hand in introducing us to our backyard neighbors. The little guy didn't die in vain. 

Our now much-beloved neighbor Ms. Bit



The story of how my family came to the point of leaving our farm in the Midwest for an old house in midwest Florida is somewhat lengthy, and yet it seemed to happen so quickly!

My father was suddenly unemployed for the first time in a very long time, and God began changing our hearts when it came to why we're even on this Earth, and what we are supposed to be doing with our short time here.

It seemed like He was calling us to something new, but we couldn't imagine what.

My brother and I, saying goodbye to our childhood home.

In October 2013, while visiting my sister in her new home, it slowly became clear that we were supposed to be in Florida. I had resisted the thought of such a move. I love hot weather, but had no attraction whatsoever for my sterotypical mental image of what Florida life and culture would be like. I think I pictured Spring Break beach craziness 24/7.

Instead, we found ourselves falling in love with a small town that felt so much like home. 

During that week long visit, we were searching online for houses to look at. Our criteria was a little out of the ordinary - we were looking for something big. We wanted a home that was large enough to welcome lots and lots of people. A place for hospitality and ministry.

And I came across a really big old blue house.

The Big Blue House

 It was in foreclosure, and looked just a little intimidating from the photos online,
but it was only 8 minutes away - and it was huge. 
So we drove over to take a look at it.

I'll admit that it was kind of love at first sight for me, even though it was so frightening to look at the outside and imagine all of the things that could be wrong. We decided to at least look at the inside, just for fun. We called the realtor, only to discover that it had just sold.

We sort of took that as an answer, and yet, for some unexplicable reason, I couldn't shake the feeling that the house would be back. Sure enough, a few weeks after returning home - the house reappeared for sale. Evidently, it had been picked up by an investment company. The price had been hiked way up beyond our price range, but the house was still for sale.

Around that time, my family spent a day of fasting and prayer, asking the Lord for specific answers and direction. At first it didn't seem like we got any, but the next day I was reminded of numerous scriptures that had encouraged me over the years - and I realized - they all shared a common theme of restoration. 

I was overwhelmed with the beauty of God's heart to take things, people, and places that are worn out, worn down, and destroyed - and make them new. I began to marvel at His promises to rebuild the ruined places, and make the desolate ground like the Garden of Eden - all for the purpose of bringing glory to His name, and drawing people to Himself.

One night after that, I was overwhelmed with a picture of that big blue house - restored, and made ready and available to be a place of healing and restoration for people. I was determined that if this was an idea from the Lord, He would communicate the same thing to the rest of my family - so instead of saying anything about it, I just began to pray that He would make it clear to all of us. Meanwhile, I felt so sure about it, I started a secret Pinterest account and began saving ideas. :)

The infamous pink bathroom

Like I said, it's a long story, but by this past April, the Lord had made things very clear.
Our farm sold and closed in about three weeks, and the price on the house had dipped well below what we were able to pay - God provided each and every detail of what we needed in a way that could only be explained as miraculous. 

So we took a step of faith!

We moved around the middle of May, and it has been non-stop adventure ever since.
Life in our house has been a bit like camping as we work through getting the plumbing fixed,
but there is such joy and peace in waking up each morning to the adventure that God is leading us on. Whether we are interacting with our wonderful new neighbors, scraping wall paper, or slapping mosquitos, we are overwhelmed with God's goodness in all that He is bringing us through, and are learning so much about the beauty of restoration.

We'll see how often I get around to updating here - it's a busy time! But I would love to share little bits and pieces of what God is doing as I'm able! 

"Simply begin every morning by making the statement: 'Lord, I'm available' and your life will never lack adventure - you'll be amazed at what He will do!" 
(A wise elderly friend of mine.) 

The Guest Bungalow (before the roof.)