Monday, November 16, 2015

Reclaim this Church!

What you see is what you get...and what you don't see is what you get.  Oh, and there were things left behind? Well, you might get those things too!

Those were the pictures that the real estate agent had taken for the sales listing of the church. What you see is what we got.  

There were many things not pictured....

Oh, and there is much more. Those things not pictured, lucky us, we also got. (I've not taken a picture of the kitchen yet, but can you see the glimpse of the pink counter tops by that lovely avocado green refrigerator?)

While the church was in a transitional title state this past August, a film company used the location for some shooting of a television series that might be picked up later this year. There were quite a few items left behind.  Two wonderful neighbors and I consolidated props that were scattered in the basement and main area of the church...

We really did not want to get those things too!~ Thankfully, 2 weeks after we closed on the building, the director made 2 trips with a truck to remove most of the items and yours truly took a huge load of trash to the dump (another great neighbor insisted on helping me collect that trash, claiming it was therapy!)

The most therapeutic and exciting part for me so far has been prying down the 2 dividing walls that were put in the main area of the sanctuary when the former owner ran his screen printing and embroidery business in the building.  We aren't done yet, but tearing down part of the walls has been quite rewarding for 2 teens, myself and my mom.  Guess what was found inside one of the walls - a whole 20 cents!~ Yes, we get that too - now added to the broken window fund.

 (The window you can see all the way through the 2 walls is above the original baptismal tub. Neighborhood hot tub anyone? Yikes!~)

My main man wants to tear down the upper part of the walls, hoping in minimize any potential ceiling damage.  He has been over the top busy with his real job, but once he digs into this, I know that he will think it is therapy too!~

We are making some "reclaim this church" progress and we will all be excited to see more light!~

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Adventure Begins

The day we closed on the church, my main man, husband, partner in life and all of its adventures, was out of town. Tony was in Texas.  I was bummed, as I had a plan for our first day of this adventure we'd been given.  It had been raining all day, which was a perfect backdrop, but alas, my plan would have to wait for a few days.

The day Tony returned home it just so happened to be another full day of rain.  A perfect setting for what I had in mind, but not so great for all of the trick or treaters who were going to be running from house to house in it.  Tony arrived home that day to find only our daughters to greet him.  They immediately insisted that he come with them, just up the hill.

As they entered one of the three entrances, one daughter made a comment about the wiggly square post topper that would need to be secured.  She took time to make sure that Tony realized the true wiggly-ness of it. 

Candle lit lanterns from our wedding a few moons ago lit the stairs...

As Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra sang away on Pandora, Tony and the girls walked up the stairs leading to... (did I say that we have an adventure on our hands? Broken windows, left behind film company props, former owner's stuff and all?) ....

And so a new adventure begins. Broken windows and all!~  


Side notes:  
First and last photo were not taken on that rainy day.
Tony's all time favorite movie was the perfect inspiration.
Signage creation credit goes to my talented oldest daughter.
Jones soda purchase credit goes to my peppy youngest daughter.
Decision to purchase a church, truly a God thing.  Read here.
Purchase decision not related to our adventurous son graduating from the Bible Division of Cornerstone University, but isn't that cool too?


Just in case you are wondering, stories of ripping up carpet, tearing down walls and sanding wood floors are sure to follow as time goes on.

PS.  The wooden cart used for our prop has quite a story too. Thank you to my friend who entrusted it to us for safe keeping. It has changed hands a few times and it's history could possibly be as long as that of the church itself.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Looking forward thru the rear view mirror

Some things make the most sense when you are looking back.

Who would want to sit inside when this is the view just outside...

...but there I was on a beautiful day in August sitting in our camper while this view and a large group of relatives were just steps away.  I was a bit of a mess and as much as I tried, I couldn't pull myself together.  It was time for dinner.  A time that most everyone from our large group gathers. A time that no matter how varied the daytime activities are, those who are present, join in, sit down, catch up, wind down and enjoy the sunset that follows.

"Should I fix you a plate?", my understanding husband asked.  "Yes, please" was my response.  "..and bring you a beer?" he added.   Deep sigh, "yes, please, and chocolate!"  I had a bit of an internal battle going on and chocolate ... is chocolate!~ Our little "gypsy camp" as some relatives called it, was nestled in an area on the "resort" property that would give me a little seclusion until I was in a more social state. "Dinner in" sounded perfect, and so did a beer and chocolate.

We had submitted an offer on a property the day prior.  All offers had to be accompanied with a proposal. Any offer submitted wouldn't be looked at by the seller until the property had been on the market for 20 days and also had to be approved by the township before being accepted. Our offer and proposal had been submitted by our real estate agent on "day 19".  It was now day 20, and our real estate agent had called us earlier on behalf of the seller's agent, before the offer was presented to the seller.  The essence of the passed on conversation was...  There is no way this offer is going to fly. Is there any way to raise the price? There are other offers and a prominent, wealthy family in the area is also placing an offer.  Tony and I had discussed the situation, responded to our real estate agent and just had to wait. Our offer was to stand as written. No changes. I knew this was the right thing for us to do, but I was a bit shaken to the core.

The property had been foreclosed on after it had been on the market and vacant for a full 8 1/2 years. It had experienced a few price drops, an adjacent land property owner change, a few broken windows and other damage thru those years.  We had made a couple offers on this property before, both formal and informal, with no budging from the owner.  This property was one that entailed a much longer, prayer covered, sometimes not moving history in both my journal and heart than the property that I wrote about in a previous post, "I fell in love... twice.

Though this might sound crazy to some, I knew that God had a plan for this place.  When it first was put on the market in 2007, my pastor's wife and I had walked around and prayed over the building.  She had even prayed that if it were something that Tony and I were suppose to be a part of in the future, it would almost be as though the building were being given to us.  The starting price tag was $465,000 for the building and then adjacent parcel of land of over 3 acres.  Years passed with not much happening with the building, besides deterioration.  This past spring I distinctly heard the whisper in my heart, "start thanking me for the church".  Though logic states otherwise, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), and I had learned through the years to pay attention to the God whispers in my heart.  I began thanking.  As I walked by, drove by or the thought of the place passed through my mind, I thanked Him. 

To shorten a long story, there I was sitting in our camper, again thanking Him thru tears, for His perfect plan. For His will be done. We had submitted a pebble of an offer. A pebble that was prayed about. A pebble of a price that had also been whispered to my heart when prayed about. I knew that He was in control. I knew that we had submitted a tiny offer and that we had a great big God.  It was truly a David and Goliath moment. I knew God had my heart, that He was in control and that His plan, regardless of what happened, was good. 

As the evening wore on, my pounding heart settled, and laughter with cousins, family and friends once again filled our camper and surrounding area.  I woke the next morning full of peace and calm.  I had waged war in my heart the night before and regardless of who was going to "own" the building, I knew that good things would happen.  If the wealthy, prominent family was who my real estate agent and I believed it to be, I knew that God has worked mightily through their generosity in our community and His will would still be done.

The call came that day.  Our real estate agent announced with surprise that we would be getting a counter offer from the seller.  She would call us as soon as she heard anything.  Surrounded by family and friends, with the beach beckoning, the sun shining, and petoskey stones to collect, the day came and went with no news but many new memories made.

After lunch the following day, our real estate agent left a message.  When Tony and I called her back, she asked if we were sitting down. Our offer had been accepted as is, without a counter and the news was that the township was thrilled to have us be the new owners.  We wouldn't be able to close on the building until late October, but congratulations were in order.  We were buying a church!~

If your childhood included this beautiful, set in the country, charming exterior as your playground view 5 days a week and the interior of it for worship an additional day a week...

... there might be something about this other little place.  A place that was also a constant backdrop in your life and is located just a few steps from your current home, that pulls you in ways you can't understand...

Photo of a photo from when we first looked at the building in 2007. Loved that picket fence which is no longer there.

The building needs alot of attention.  There are township restrictions on how it can be used. Essentially, it will be used the same way that we would a barn on our property minus the animals. We have begun some clean up and there is much, much more to do. Friends, neighbors and family have already surprised us with offers to help and have begun to pitch in.  Knowing that God has a perfect plan and will direct our steps, we are walking forward into our new adventure...

 (photo credit: POSH Photography)

The building already holds 101 years of stories.
There are sure to be many more to tell! 

The real stories begin here:
 Mlive had published a few stories about the building this year:

Kent County Land Bank ready to acquire and demolish old rural church

TV producer wants to save 101-year-old church destined for wrecking ball

Abandoned church escapes wrecking ball, may have a Hollywood future