Thursday, October 29, 2015

For the Love of Old Grace

My grandma was an amazing woman.  Mother of 9, wife to a farmer, milker of cows, baker of bread.  The woman that I knew as "Grandma" was full of contentment and a picture of grace. Her grace and contentment did not come as a result of an easy life, but was the result of decisions made along the roads she travelled in both her life and her heart.  She loved being surrounded by "her people" as she sometimes referred to her very large family.  I would imagine that each and every one of us saw Grandma differently based on our experiences with her, but she was a common thread in each of our lives and so was her home.
(photo & light decor credit to my cousin Lyn)

Grandma's house was always special. Besides being home to the lady I loved and the host of countless family gatherings, it had amazing craftsman features....

My grandma always said that she would live to be 100. In her own special way, she kept her promise.  We sadly said "goodbye for now" 100 days prior to her 100th birthday. She always did put her own spin on things. 

Her house has remained in the family for many years.  While one of my uncles lived there, the "stuff" of the house was dispersed. We held a fun family auction so that anyone who attended could bid on special "grandma items" to keep for memory sake.  The truth is, we don't need the house or the "stuff" to remind us of her. The real memories of grandma will continue in each of our hearts, the hearts of her people.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I fell in love... twice. Finally Part 4!

a continuation of: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3

I knew that I had yet another opportunity to place an offer on the most amazing farmhouse and barn. A property of 10 acres and an overgrown orchard just waiting to be pruned.
Oh my excitement that Christmas!  
As I created and wrapped gifts for the season, I planned which window the Christmas tree would be placed in front of at the farm house. 
 and how I would change the interior surrounding that window.
 I planned how I would decorate the beautiful double porch.
I planned on purchasing a million white twinkle lights when they were on clearance so that the amazing barn beams would add a magical ambiance to any event it hosted. 
I planned as I had once before. We had gone down this road once before. I was excited about this second opportunity, but somewhere between our first offer almost 2 years prior and the one that I knew would be coming up, my perspective had somehow shifted.
Oh believe me, I still wanted to own this property. To see amazing things take place here. To see my grandchildren one day use their scooters on the driveway the same way that my girls had when we were first looking at the place.
In the spring of 2013 we placed an offer once again.  An offer based on what we were told the couple needed for their home. An offer based on many conversations with the owner. An offer that was prayed over and submitted - not just to the owners but to the God who, we know, holds our lives in His hands.  This time around we weren't told to sharpen our pencils, but our offer was countered. Countered at a price much higher than we were told was needed. Countered at a price, considering all that would need to be repaired on the home, we weren't willing to pay.  The owners and ourselves could not agree on a price and ....we had to let this one go.

It was an interesting turn of events and not one that I had planned for, but I had personally gone through a journey.  A journey of the heart.  A journey I hadn't planned on. A journey that has a better ending.
How can one describe the change of ones heart. The faithfulness of a Father, a creator, a holder of all things in His hands. The place that I had found, the most perfect (in my mind) farmhouse and barn, I thought would host so many love stories. Our own family's love story. Countless brides & groom's love stories. Friends and extended families love stories. The "plan" didn't go as I thought it would. The plan in my heart and mind had (through a long journey) been submitted to the one who holds my heart. The one who created my heart. The one who tenderly redirected my heart in such a way that I can't describe. The farmhouse and barn that I had fallen in love with had truly played a role in a much bigger love story. The love story of a midwestern girl and a great big God. The love story of my heart and the creator of my heart. It is a story that words cannot describe. 


I fell in love... twice!  Epilogue
I no longer look for properties that could be eventual event locations.  I had been directed to "turn my heart towards home" and many great stories in our home and with our family have happened since.  I absolutely love working with all of the brides, grooms and families that I have been blessed to provide beautiful flowers to and I hope to be a part of many more love stories through the years.  Through the journey I just revealed and through many since, my heart was changed and I no longer have the desire to host entire events.

On a side note: There was another location that I had seen online in the midst of this journey that I just shared. It was a property that I had dismissed. Tony and I had looked at the photos, but the barn was too small. It just didn't grab our attention. After our journey with our farmhouse and barn was complete, I had heard about a new event place opening.  It was at this location that we had chosen not to even walk through. It is now a beautiful event space that I have been blessed to provide flowers to for the sweetest couples and their beautiful events.  Though I've not told them, I often pray for the owners. (Because I know how much energy can go into weddings and I know how much energy can go into raising kids - especially teens. They and I are doing both and so I pray :).) I will admit, I went through some questioning with God as to how I could have missed it. Why I seemed to have even been "blinded" to this location and it's potential. God firmly responded, "it's not what I have for you".  And I completely trust Him!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I fell in love... twice. Part 3

a continuation of Part 1 and Part 2 

This beautiful farm house with the barn and property that I fell in love with at first sight was not to be ours. No deal. No discussion. No farmhouse and barn. I was so disappointed, but God had whispered in my heart "Do you trust Me?" and I had responded "I do".  And I did.  But not without arguing, not without tears, not without questions.  "Anner the Planner", as my dad used to call me, had the perfect plan and though I'd surrendered to God's perfect plan in the past, and I knew that I knew that He is good, this plan on mine was very hard to let go.

As I looked up....
God began changing my heart.  Can you imagine my relief when I discovered that the property that I dreamed of, though it was not for us, was for no one else either!  After the property had been on the market for a short time, the owners were able to cash in an investment, redeem the property from short sale destiny and take the house off the market.  I was so relieved, because maybe, perhaps in the future, the owners would decide to list the house again.  Of course, I wrote them a very sweet note congratulating them on being able to enjoy their beautiful home and asking them to please keep us in mind if they ever thought about selling again in the future. I left it there. In God's hands and theirs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (literally, the brick ranch), I set about sharpening my plan, our finances and my search.
In addition to creating wedding flowers,
 and hosting Garden Room Sales in our sunroom,
I took on a part time job with a local farm and again began to search for the perfect place.  Nothing compared to what we had already found and lost.  Some friends knew of my journey, and I would get calls about locations. Some even prior to them going on the market. Beautiful places. Places with potential...
Places that Tony and I went through and though they were beautiful, they were not "it".  Other places, I would look at online and completely dismiss. The barn looked too small. There wasn't enough land. It just didn't compare to what we had already found and missed out on.

In the midst of all of this, I would hear about other places opening up.  Places that I've since been blessed to provide flowers to for wonderful couples and beautiful weddings.

 (a property that was purchased, but had not hit the real estate listings sites) 

 (a property that had been in the same family for 
generations. Photo from their facebook page)

I continued to wrestle with God over my ideas of what was best and my sometimes ugly envy. He would gently remind me to look to Him when I would become consumed with what could be. He asked me to turn my heart toward Him.  I continued to surrender.  He continued to work in my heart.

In December of 2012, 1 1/2 years after our offer on what I believed to be the most perfect place, we received a call from one of the owners. The wife.  She told me that they had to sell. They were going to list the house in the spring. The house would again be in short sale. What we had offered in the past was the ball park of what they had in mind for price and... that their marriage of 30 years was on the brink of ruin.  I prayed with the lady on the other end of the line. We prayed about her marriage. We prayed about her home. We prayed together and cried together. I thanked her for calling and I knew we would talk again.

...To be continued in one more post :).

Friday, October 16, 2015

I fell in love... twice. ~ Part 2

(in case you missed part 1, click here)

.... I was lovestruck, filled with hope, envisioning all of my dreams coming true!~  Yes, I knew we were still talking about sticks and stones - and a big God and a big dream in my heart.  I was over the top in love and convinced that this was the place. Our place. Our should be forever place... and Tony agreed.  He understood my vision and the transformation that could take place.

Where I saw this:

I envisioned something like this: 
(found on Southern Weddings)

and this:
(found on Rebloggy)

Where I saw this:

I envisioned something like this:

and naturally, the doors of the barn would feature something like this: 
(found on pinterest)

The almost 100 overgrown apple trees
that looked like this in the spring:

I was convinced would look like this by fall:
(found on pinterest)

and, of course, Forrester Farm would provide
 arrangements that looked something like this:
(found on 100 Layer Cake)

We could see ourselves there. We could retire there. We could really love living there, but.....there were some drawbacks.  It wasn't in our school district and would we really want to uproot the kids.  It would add an additional 30 minutes one way to an already sometimes tiring drive to work.  The house needed a new roof. The barn needed repairs in the roof.  There were some foundation concerns.  The property needed alot of work, which we weren't afraid of, but these were all important things to consider.

So, we prayed, we crunched numbers, we talked about options, we brought in a contractor to give us estimates, we met with some advisers, we prayed some more and ....we made an offer!  An offer based on the work that would need to be done.  An offer based on the decision that we should not uproot the kids, but manage two properties until they were all out of school.  An offer based on the knowledge that the property was in short sale status.

We submitted our offer.  We prayed. We waited. We got a response. Not quite the response we were expecting.  The exact words were "sharpen your pencil".  Who says that anyhow?  No counter. No discussion. No deal. And God whispered to my heart, "Do you trust me?" And I responded, "I do."

The story continues next week....

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I fell in love... twice.

Some stories take years to develop & tell. 
Here's just the beginning of one of mine.... 

I fell in love....twice.
The first time was with the absolute love of my life, my husband Tony! A true love story with God's hand at work from the very beginning and throughout our marriage.  It is a cool story, but not the one I was going to tell today.

The second time was with a house, a barn and a 10 acre plot of land with an overgrown orchard. Yes, just a place of sticks and stones, but I was smitten and consumed.  See, when Tony and I were engaged, we looked for the perfect barn setting for our wedding day. Though we searched near and far, our search was in vain. As it turned out, the Ada Covered Bridge and Frederick Meijer Gardens were absolutely perfect for our special day. 
After we had been married for a bit, we decided to sell the house that I had bought prior to meeting Tony (picture above).  We talked about taking our time and finding the perfect farmhouse and barn setting. There were not many options in our ideal area available at that time.  We found instead, a red brick ranch style home on almost 3 acres in an area that I loved and always drove by growing up.  (Though my eyes were always on the 2 farms across the street).  Here is just one of the views across from our house...   Just love it!~
Sometimes, when I would question why were were in this particular house, which was not the style I had dreamed of, I'd hear a small whisper in my heart, "because you love it".  I'd argue with God over it, but that too, is a story for a different day.  As we worked to make a brick ranch our own (like Tony building the most amazing sunroom where a deck used to be), I began growing flowers, selling bouquets at the local farmer's market, attending craft shows with our handmade botanical products and getting many requests for wedding floral work.  It was just the beginning of what we call Forrester Farm.
Working in the garden was amazing for therapy, inspiration and prayer time (if I could keep my 3 favorite flowers and gifts from God busy and happy at the same time - rock painting by the garden was a great go to for the kiddos). Just in case you are wondering, we all look quite different now....
With Forrester Farm growing, literally, Tony and I agreed that we would again look for the perfect farmhouse and barn setting to potentially host weddings. Truth be told, it was more my search with Tony being a silent supporter.  I searched high and low over the course of a couple years, with budget and location in mind.  There were only a couple that I had him look at and this one that I found in the early spring of 2011, though not in the ideal location, I was convinced, was the one....

With the southern charm porch, the amazing huge barn (that caused tears to flow down my face when I first stepped in because it was so perfect), the overgrown orchard that was just waiting to be trimmed and loved, the curve around the house driveway, the space in the house that was just waiting for my attention.... I was lovestruck, could barely breathe, head over heels in LOVE!~

.... to be continued....