In the deep south, there are two kinds of people: Mountain People and Beach People. There is no in between. Either you love going to the mountains every time you get the opportunity or you book your condo at the beach a year in advance. Now, don’t get me wrong both groups will visit the other locations occasionally, but they remain true to one or the other in their heart for their whole life.
I am a mountain person and I have been blessed to have married two other mountain people in my lifetime. When Greg and I were newlyweds we would run off to the mountains every chance we got. Mostly it was around Christmas each year, but we did enjoy several trips at other times of the year as well. During those trips, we would ride around and look at houses and dream of one day owning our own log cabin. We bought magazines (because Pinterest had not yet been invented!) and cut pictures out of different things we wanted to include if we ever built our own log cabin. I kept them all in a three-ring binder.
Heath and I have only been married for two months and we have already been to the mountains twice. I have been five times this year alone. And, before you ask yes I have considered moving there MANY times and it still is not out of the question!
Anyway, back in 2005 I had just finished my bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama and was teaching at Winfield. Greg was the Fire Chief in Fayette. We decided it was time to build our dream home and so that’s exactly what we did. The day Greg dug the footings for the foundation was the same day I found out that I was pregnant with Maggie.
Naturally, that house took on a whole new meaning for us when we found out a baby was gonna join our family after six years of infertility.
In May of 2006, just seven days before Maggie was born we moved into our dream home. Life for the most part was great! Little did we know what kind of storm was about to hit us.
I was induced with Maggie at 37 weeks. Since she was my first baby to deliver they let me labor for over 27 hours. My water was broken by the doctor and the three epidural attempts never worked. So, after pushing for three hours I was finally taken back for a C-section where they put me to sleep under general anesthesia. When I woke up I had a 105-degree temperature and no clue if I had a boy or a girl (Greg was the only person who knew what we were having). They didn’t tell me many details for the next three days because I was so sick. On the fourth day, my fever broke and I was finally able to see my baby for the first time. Together, she and I spent the next twenty-two days inside that hospital. Greg drove back and forth as much as he could, but he couldn’t afford to take off work that long. So, most of my time was spent inside the NICU or walking back and forth carrying milk from the room I was staying in at the hospital.
When Maggie and I finally came home with Greg it was wonderful. Life was good and we began settling in as a family. In September of 2006, we bought the store. Greg quit the fire department and we switched our focus to a family run business. In December 2006, I found out (against all odds) that I was pregnant with Linnie. Talk about shock! I was in deep shock for a while! So was Greg.
When I was five months pregnant with Linnie, Greg came home one day and announced that he wanted a divorce. During the following six years we went on to lose our business, our house, our vehicles, our respect for each other, and our pride. If it could be lost we lost it. Yet, we found a new life in the process.
God mended our marriage, He mended our hearts, and he mended our finances. It was not an easy thing to endure…especially when we thought about “our house”. One day on the way to see some friends in Atlanta the Miranda Lambert song, “The House that Built Me” came on the radio as we were passing the racetrack in Talladega. Greg started crying so hard that I told him to pull over. When he could talk again he said that “our house” was built with all the love he had for us. He wanted us to grow old there, he wanted our children to grow up and make memories there, he wanted them to have their pictures made on the front porch steps when they were headed to the prom. Every dream he had for our family was centered around that house and he was devastated to have built it himself and lost it.
Greg took this picture a few minutes before we walked out of the door for the last time the day we moved out. Behind that smile was a very broken woman. I was sad to the bone and had no idea what was going to happen next. Maggie remembers this day, but Linnie does not. I, however will never forget it.
For three years I could not even drive by the house without crying. I honestly grieved losing that house as much as I had ever grieved in my life up to that point. I cried out to God to please let us have our house back. I wanted it back so bad that I could taste it. I almost let myself become bitter because He didn’t let it happen. How childish I was! I wanted my house and I could not understand why God took it away from us. Finally, after three years I gave the house back to God. I told him that I was OK with not living there and that I would be content wherever He lead me. I asked him to forgive me for my selfish desires and I asked Him to bless those who were fortunate enough to live there in all the days to come. God was faithful and He heard my prayers. He sent someone to live in the house that would one day be the pillar I needed to survive.
After Greg died I spent three months sitting in a chair. I lost touch with reality and I lost touch with life. My world crashed and all I could do was sit around looking at the ashes that were left. Thankfully, I had a family and friends who didn’t give up on me. They loved me back into living and one of those people was the woman who bought “our house”.
She stepped in and helped me to find healing. She gave me the things I needed to survive. She told me to listen to my Mama. She told me to get up and start over. She cooked dinner…and gave me books…and warm cookies. She sat on my couch as I cried and wondered how to find my way out of the darkness. She took my girls and gave them things to learn and time to relax. She was the first person to read my book and she was my cheerleader throughout the whole publication process. She opened her doors to us and encouraged me to spend time in the house or on the porch soaking in the memories and feelings that Greg had left in that place. She even had our hand prints cut out of the driveway cement and delivered the piece of stone to us so that we would have it at the new house. She loved us unconditionally and to this day I could never repay her for all she did to help us live again.
Two weeks ago, she texted me and said she had some big news. She had been offered a job in another state and would be putting the house on the market. She didn’t want me to be upset about it. Little did she know that Heath had fallen in love with that house too.
After twenty minutes of texting and a late-night visit…we had worked out a deal. Before I left, she gave me this:
Every one of the sixty-six dimes inside this jar were found in the house during a three day time span. Do ya reckon Greg knows that on October 1st, 2017 Heath and I will have officially bought “our house” back? To say that all of us directly involved were shocked by these dimes would be an understatement!! And, it’s not just the dimes. I still cannot believe that we are really getting “our house” back! I still cannot believe that we are really moving back into the house that “built us”. I still cannot believe that all the dreams Greg had for his family will now come true.
God gave me the promise of Jeremiah 33:11-12 on or around January 9, 2016. That day is especially significant because that is the day Greg and I started dating in 1999 and it is also this amazing woman’s birthday! Coincidence? I think not!
Those verses in the book of Jeremiah say this: “There will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is Good, His love endures forever. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.”
You do not have to know me to see how amazing this story is! But, if you do know me or if you knew Greg you can clearly see that this is out of this world crazy! But, the story does not end there.
Heath, the man God prepared to become my husband long before I even knew I would want another one is also being restored. See, his story is wrought with love and loss as well. He has walked through a deep, deep valley and now he is being blessed with a home and family of his own again. His story is equally amazing and maybe one day he will want to share it, but for now he is content to just share this part of it.
Together he and I both want the world to see God in us. We cannot and will not take credit for what God has done. The mountains were too high, the valleys too low, the burdens too heavy. We would not be where we are today without the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood and sacrifice.
I hope our story inspires you to keep going. Keep trusting, keep believing in the One who can make all things possible. This world is not our home, we are all just passing through. My prayer is that everyone who reads this takes the time to know the King of King and Lord of Lords for His ways are true and His burdens are light. He’s coming back soon…are you ready?
September 20th is only ten days away. I honestly believe this second ‘Daddy Day’ will be filled with joy as we relish in the dream Greg had for his family coming full circle. I know a lot of you will have questions about what will happen next with the new house. The only thing I can tell you at this moment is “I don’t know”! I guess you will all have to stay tuned to find out! One thing I know for certain: God already has it worked out in full detail. I can’t wait to see what His plan is and how it connects to this one!