It didn't just happen – this ol' house. Rather, it was with the utmost attention that it was cultivated to be what it is. Like a soft, red tomato hanging from the vine, these last few weeks we saw the work we've put into our cottage ripen. As if it was finally time for it to mature ever-so-slightly out of the gawky teenage years.
Make no bones about it. Our home has been there for many moons.
As much as I wish I was one of those DIY, home-decor, Joanna Gaines bloggers that could flip a house in six months, always pick the right fixtures, never make a mistake in my paint choice, and have all the right pieces in place, I'm so far from that it's comical. Desperately comical.
So comical, in fact, that I finally just finished putting up wallpaper in my kitchen over a year after I started. (Granted there was serious electricity and drywall patching involved by a professional, but that's not the point.)
The point is that our homes quietly breath our essence back to us. What we put in, be it small or big. My “homemaking” skills started as picking out a few new houseplants to have in my rental in college. Yet it still spoke, whispered, of what was to come. The cultivation of “this ol' house” takes intention and time.
I've never been in a home long enough to see the fruits of our labor ripen in this way. Lately, it's been as if our little cottage is a lighthouse calling in the ships from the seas.
Our home has been open to neighbors, running over to grab some farm-fresh milk or bring by a load of fruit from the orchard.
Our home has been open to friends needing a place for their littles to play while they go to the grocery store in peace.
It's served my parents on countless occasions for Saturday morning coffee. And given my sister a place to belly up for a late-afternoon glass of wine.
We've filled the dining room table of our cottage with piano benches, stools, and extra chairs to fit everyone around the large, worn table more times than I can count.
Our home has hosted groups of students, looking to learn and acquire a new skill.
And it's employed farmhands who help to harvest the crops and weed the gardens.
Our home has welcomed our closest neighbor, bringing us boxes of apples, cherries, peaches, fishing gear, or firewood.
I know it may sound a bit dreamy and romantic, but I don't care. I love this ol' house – I am so deeply grateful for it. I love that the kitchen door remains unlocked and the UPS driver leaves the packages inside when we're gone. I love the horrible mess left after another last-minute-thrown-together meal for a crowd.
We built it. And they came. They're coming. Which means my work has just begun. I'm now here, in the lighthouse, standing in a ready posture to serve those who land on our shores.
More times than once these past few months, we've enjoyed a “traffic jam” in the driveway where those coming and those going collide. The FedEx guy parks behind the neighbor's tractor. The farmhand arrives at the same time as the family from errands. A beautiful collision of souls, living life, here at our cottage.
After only five years, the activity our farm life, four kids, and zeal for community have begun to wear down the polish of this ‘ol house. (I've decided I'll wait until my kids are all out of the house before I even attempt to sand and refinish the dining room table.)
Sure, we've had to replace the dining room chairs… refinish the kitchen counter… replace more throw-pillows than I care to think about… buy extra chicken… and roast extra batches of coffee. But so what.
If there's one thing this last year has affirmed to me it's my need for others. I need people. Real people. I need to keep building the type of home that people feel they can come to.
If I could leave you with an encouragement, it would be to learn into the hard work of building and keeping a home. The sweat of your brow deeply blesses your community and the people who seek you.
Be the lighthouse we all need.