In 1987, we both turned 20 and became husband and wife. I was a student at Samford University and Eric worked full-time at a sheet metal business. We lived in a trailer that my grandmother owned then we moved into the old house next door. We lived there for a year before moving to New Orleans.
In New Orleans, we were in school and worked several part-time jobs. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment for a few years before our application for a two-bedroom apartment was accepted. We lived in that apartment for a few more years before we moved again. Back in Alabama we lived in a small house next door to the church where I worked and we continued our education. It was while we were living there that I began to dream of a Dream House. While looking through a book of home plans I found it. Here’s the photo of it.
Soon we left Alabama again and moved to the Nashville area. For 2 years we rented a house across the street from the church where I worked. With baby number 2 on the way we finally bought our first house. The home had been occupied by one family since they built it in the 1950’s. This cozy little home sat on almost two acres on a beautiful corner lot. Although the house was small we made so many sweet memories there and our family grew to include baby number three. Eric went back to school and we both worked full-time. Now there were 5 of us living in a 1200 sq. ft. home (including the unfinished garage). The home had no central heat/air, no dishwasher, one tiny bathroom, and a garage that flooded every time it rained. But I could plug the vacuum in one outlet and vacuum the whole house. And I could smell the sweet scent of petunias in the kitchen window box as I stood washing dishes with the window open in the summer heat. And it had a castle garden— a wooded area on the edge of our back yard that had lots of beautiful ivy, a sweet-scented, blooming ground cover, hand-stacked stone walls, and hidden trails. It was a wonderland for our young children and me.
While we were living in that home I found another Dream House in another book. It’s much smaller than the first and even loved the name of it: Stonebridge Cottage. Here’s a photo of it:
Later, we moved back to Alabama again. By this time I had “retired” and Eric was through with school. He worked full-time during the day while building a counseling practice in the evenings. We bought a house (a 1970’s ranch) in an older neighborhood with tree lined streets. We still live in it today.
This house has twice the square footage of our previous home (not including the finished basement). It has three bathrooms, five bedrooms and I spend half of a morning getting it all vacuumed (old carpet). But we have wonderful neighbors who have become like family and a picket fenced front yard with rose bushes and yellow jasmine. We have a beautiful, wooded back yard with an enormous 200 year-old Tulip Poplar, lots of ivy, blooming plants, and a swing. Our family (now seven of us!) enjoy spring evenings on the screened porch and winter nights by the wood burning fire place.
I may never build my Dream House. Either of them. The second Dream House was much less grand than the first and the house I live in now has no resemblance to either. But a few years ago I realized that I’ve always lived in my Dream Home. Each trailer, apartment, and house has its own share of memories. There are many things I’ve loved about each home. But the best part has been the life we’ve lived in them—building a marriage, studying for an exam, entertaining family and friends, welcoming each new life God added to our family—and the lesson I’ve learned—Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1.
I am thankful I live in the Dream House that God built.