Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Ford Ranch

It's taken me awhile to process enough to be able to write about this...but I need to. I need to mark it, to raise an Ebenezer, to remember, because it's a moment in our lives together that God is using and will continue to use to grow us.

Since about March or April, Mr. Ford and I had been in the process of purchasing the home that his Grampa Ford had lived in for nearly 40 years. It was the house that Mr. Ford and his siblings and cousins grew up spending time at...they built memories there and the walls are filled with the stories of a family and a legacy. Even in the garage the walls are literally marked with the growing up of the grandchildren that ran and played and learned and loved there.

In the garage...I so badly wanted to add my children's timeline to this history.

Mr. Ford and I had ourselves written countless pages of our own story in that house. It was where he was living when we met and so many of our early dates were in that house, around Grampa's dinner table - Mr. Ford, Grampa, and I. Even then we dreamed together of maybe someday carrying on our story in that place. So when the opportunity arose to make it a reality, (to be clear, Grampa just couldn't live there independently anymore...he is alive and well!) the dreaming became much more specific. We began to picture bringing our babies home to that front room, with the built-in bookcase that Grampa had built. We pictured our little chicken coop and vegetable garden on the back part of the lot, where Mr. Ford would teach our children all about gardening. We pictured ourselves sitting on the deck under the big oak tree in the front yard, after putting the kids to bed, and remembering where we'd been and dreaming together about where we'd go. I had a whole stock-pile of memories that we had already created there and memories that I had dreamed up there. We were grateful.

Mr. Ford chopping wood in the backyard...taken just weeks after our first date.
It was affectionately referred to as The Ford Ranch. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to breathe new life into it and to carry on the legacy and to continue to write the story of the Ford family within those walls. We believed, and I still do believe, it was not the "blessing" of a was a holy tasking to make that home a safe space for everyone in our lives to love and be loved, unconditionally and unequivocally. We were so excited.

The house needed some love and because of the kind of loan we were getting to give it that love, the process was taking a long time. But we were patient, certain that this was something we were meant to do and that in the end it would all be worth it. We poured blood, sweat, and tears into it and our little tribe of people rallied around us and showed up for us in truly remarkable ways to help us get there. 

Removing wallpaper and the infamous mirror at the end of the hall.
Then four days before we were supposed to close, after months and months of waiting and dreaming and picturing living and dying in that house, we learned there was a problem with the loan, that turned out to be insurmountable. We fought to the very end and did everything we could to not let the dream die, but in the end...there was nothing we could do. We had to walk away from The Ford Ranch.

It was a surreal week, the week surrounding that final decision. Just before we had the conversation that resulted in the resolution, a friend of mine, who knew the situation, texted me that she was praying for God's best for us in the situation, and it reminded me that He really does know better than I do. Mr. Ford and I sat in our car and prayed that same prayer aloud together and asked for quick and clear discernment as to what His best for us, and everyone involved, really was. He certainly answered that one...we knew very quickly that we needed to walk. For the sake of the family, for us, and for Grampa. I won't go into all of the details, but where we once felt confident that we were meant to be in that house, we were now confident that we were not meant to be.

That's a strange flip to make. We really did, and still do, believe that at the time, trying to buy that house was what we were meant to do. And I think that the point was not to actually purchase the house and live in it, but that the whole process was meant to teach us to dream again and to recognize what our true ministry is. The work we knew God was calling us to has not changed...we can do that work anywhere. And we will. But I think that He needed us to walk through this particular moment in our story to really get clarity on what that work is. This was the refining fire meant to prepare us for the mighty things He wants to accomplish through us.

God has loved us so well and so uniquely throughout this process. He has surrounded us with friends and family who have walked through every step with us; who have been excited with us, who have sweat alongside of us, who have prayed with us (I'll never forget the moment my mother was taking down wood paneling in the room that was going to be the nursery for our future babies, praying for them..the ones not yet even knit together, so very loved), who have cried with us, and who have mourned with us. 

We were heartbroken. We stood in that dreamed up nursery one last time, crying together and broken, at the death of that particular dream. We have been mourning that death, and so many others, in this situation, but the people of God in our lives have taken the command to mourn with those who mourn seriously, and we are forever indebted.

But we also know that God is good and He is faithful. He is orchestrating a dream that is so far beyond anything we can imagine and more than anything, I just want to live within the dream He has for us, for our life together. We rest in that and in the comfort of His embrace. We are at great peace, even in our sorrow and mourning.

Grampa in his chair, days before he moved out. So grateful for the time spent with him in that room.
The Ford Ranch is not a is that special place in the hearts and memories of everyone who spent time there and now we take it wherever we go, wherever we are, and wherever we honor the legacy and the stories written together in that home. I'm so grateful to have been allowed to be a player in the story of The Ford Ranch. I take up that mantle, not lightly, but with great passion and great reverence for everything that God has done there and will continue to do. 

Ford family, if you have a memory of The Ford Ranch you'd like to mark, I'd love it if you'd leave a comment here...let's raise this Ebenezer together and remember together.