936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
“We should buy your parent’s house.”
My husband slipped in next to me in the coffee shop booth. I thought he was crazy, but only for three seconds. After eleven years of marriage, that’s about how long I question his wild ideas before seeing their validity.
For years we’ve talked about stepping into real estate investing. We’ve tumbled the idea around our minds, brainstorming how to make that first frightening leap. Now my childhood home sat empty in Wisconsin, with my parents ready to sell. Sipping on my iced latte, every reason to not do this filled my mind. In his usual fashion, my husband had already thought through all these excuses.
We don’t have the money. We can owner finance, use a title company to put the house in our names, and pay my parents as “the bank” until we refinance in six months. We’ll do the “BRRRR” investing method: Buy, Renovate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat.
It’s across the country from us. We’re already going in that direction for Christmas. We’ll tack on a few weeks to the trip and live in the house while renovating it.
It needs more “tender loving care” than we can offer. We own a contracting company and will make sure the house has solid bones before we purchase it. Grayson has all the experience this house needs.
We can’t disrupt our kids’ school schedule. We homeschool precisely for these reasons: flexibility of schedule, opportunity, and hands-on education.
We’re already over-our-heads busy building two businesses in Colorado. My business can be managed entirely remotely. Grayson can wrap up projects here and line up more work for when we return home.
We just bought a house. Yes, with great neighbors down the street who will bring in mail and care for our cat for a few weeks.
In a matter of minutes, I was on board.
Over the years, we’ve developed a gridwork for decision-making. We talk through the worst-case scenarios, identify the next steps, and consider contingency plans. We walk an idea down every avenue, envisioning each outcome until we can move forward as a team. We take on hard things because we’ve dreamed and discussed possibilities so regularly that we already know which doors we’re going to open when they stand in front of us. So, we opened this one.
Setting the figurative door aside and stepping into the actual door of my childhood home for the first time in over a decade, there were plenty of tears. The house had sat vacant for some time. It seemed a fitting way to wrap up 2020: with a mess. And yet, with a massive opportunity. And so, on December 23, my husband bought me my childhood home for Christmas. Cobwebs, broken glass, and all.
Over five weeks, we lived in my childhood home with our four kids while performing a complete interior renovation. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Most days, we were three cups of coffee deep by 10 AM and still found caulking cracks, painting ceilings, or installing trim past 10 PM. Our kids busied themselves with audiobooks, activity books, reading, wrestling, and playing in our new one-acre yard with the same trees I grew up climbing.
It turns out that taking on ridiculously hard things offers ample opportunity to be humble before your kids. I don’t know how many times I told my kids, “I’m sorry for being cranky.” They forgave, time and again, and in so doing, watched me grow as a mom, wife, business owner, and individual.
This project pushed us to grow not only in the arena of parenting but also in our communication, planning, and faith. The very first week, despite our preliminary phone calls and work ahead of time, our expected financing for renovations fell through. We quickly moved from Plan A to B, to C, to D, to E … Rather than panicking when faced with countless hurdles, Grayson reminded me that this is a game of problem-solving. Look at the obstacle in front of you, turn it into a question, find an answer. This was the process we followed for 37 days until we mopped the new kitchen floor and (literally) caulked corners on our way out the door.
Driving West with hands cramping from painting and backs aching from lifting drywall, I’ve never felt this much as a team with my husband. We’ve done a lot of crazy hard things over the past decade — but something this physically and mentally challenging? I knew this was only the beginning of something we’ll love to do together. Problem-solving alongside him is an honor.
We could do life more easily, I know. But God has tucked inside our hearts this little flame for taking on hard, unconventional, and interesting things, so we do. All the while, He’s teaching me how to lean into His strength rather than my own. How to trust my husband’s knowledge and ideas. How to train up my kids — albeit imperfectly — but in the middle of real-life challenges. How to stare down a problem and break it into its fundamental pieces. How to believe I can do more challenging things than I think I’m capable of. Most importantly, He’s teaching our family to be a team that goes after hard things and holds onto faith when circumstances feel impossible.
We built a house last month, not from the ground up, but from history. We stood on the hardwoods my own family restored when I was five years old, and we made new what once was old. All the while, God built something even more beautiful: a family going after hard things by His grace. “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!