Welcome to Cottonwood Creek!


Welcome to Cottonwood Creek!  This blog is about the most recent adventure that fell into our lap in May of 2011, and is ongoing today.  It is being read in over 100 countries so far, and we hear from people about it on a weekly basis.  Enjoy our story!

It all began with a one-night trip to Frederickburg, Texas, for my 41st birthday (I mean 31st).

We live in a quaint, small Texas town.  The community is filled with wonderful, friendly people. Pastures of cows and horses line the major roads (all two of them), and the only traffic accidents I’ve almost had were deer darting in front of my car.

I’ve always thought that the country offered the kind of relaxed setting that meshed well with my desire to offer people rest and food (and tea!)…and that, perhaps, I could meld the two together through a Bed & Breakfast.

But, sadly, my current home, the land we live on, and the neighborhood we live in didn’t work well with this dream. So, I’ve pined over the idea…but never expected, planned, or tried to attain it (until now…).

My husband and I have stayed in many Bed & Breakfasts through our two decades of marriage. We love the homeyness, personal touches, atmosphere, and chatting with the owners. The one we stayed at in May 2011, in Fredericksburg, was a quaint French-inspired bungalow called “La Vie Est Belle”.  (I highly recommend that you stay there.)

When we walked in the door, the opposite wall had a butcher-block table filled with a glass cake dome with enormous muffins, fruit, and two chairs…one for each of us. How romantic (…with 2 kids tagging along).

Hands down, the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. It’s just a big cotton ball.

I loved it.

I told God (as I SO often did) that I wished I had one of my own (broken record), because I wanted to leave muffins and fruit, or some home-baked concoction, and other special touches for my own guests, and offer them a cozy experience.  But, it was probably a good thing that He had never given me one, because I didn’t have the space for it, or know how to decorate it.

Oddly, the very unexpected words that came back to my head were, “But you do know how to decorate a cabin.”


I paid no attention.   After all, I didn’t own a Bed and Breakfast, and had no way of putting one in my house or in my yard…so, out went that idea.


The next series of events would radically change our lives.  [Update:  As you read the following details, remember them….as each is very important to our future home that YOU”LL be visiting some day…]

On the way home from our stay, my husband wanted to go on the back roads.  First we went to an old farmstead called the Sauer-Beckman Homestead, which was the original home of a family from the 1800’s who emigrated here from Germany.

(I sure wish I could tell you what this contraption was; I just know it was fascinating. But, alas, I’m getting old.  Memory fleeting. Very sad, really.)

LOVE LOVE LOVED this old kitchen! There were burning coals still in the oven, because they had just used the oven to cook their lunch that day.

I, of course, was ready to roll up my sleeves and follow instructions…ready to cook!   Maybe I could even wear one of those long-sleeved, past the ankles, multi-layered, sexy frocks in the 100 degree heat…and a bonnet, too. (Sigh….keep dreaming, Gretty. Some dreams just don’t come true.)

This was the fresh milk from their cow, turning to cottage cheese and yogurt (…or something).

They had chickens, and let my kids go in to take the eggs from the nests or roosts…(whatever chicken beds are called).


From there, we went down more back roads. We saw an enormous barn-looking building that was built from refurbished barn wood.   The building is currently being used as a place to rent for events. (*Remember this for later.)

Not far from that was another old homestead that seemed to have the original barn, home, and tools still in place…as if deserted a long time ago. Can you see the chuckwagon parked in the barn…ready to go?

Are you observing my “old barn” theme running through here, and my fascination with them?


All combined, our minds were swirling. Bed & Breakfasts.   1800’s.   Old homesteads. Refurbished wood put to new use. Old barns. (**Remember these things; there will be a test later.)

On the way home, we started talking about how neat it would be to build a Bed & Breakfast out of old recycled wood, to look like an old homestead.   I even told my husband about the “seemingly random” comment that went through my head back at the B&B…(“But you do know how to decorate a cabin.”)

Only months prior to our trip to Fredericksburg, we had torn down a 100-year old house for a woman at our church.  We purchased its farmhouse sink, along with some 100-year old wood, and metal from the roof.    We had no idea why we bought any of it…particularly the sink.  We didn’t need any of it.  We just liked it all; and it helped her out financially.   As of now, all that junk is just laying in our back yard.


We talked and talked…and  dreamed and dreamed… the whole way home from Fredericksburg.  It’s almost like we were planning out the “cabin” we were going to build, how it would look, and even described a tank (large Texas pond) outside the front door to fish in.


This might seem off-topic, but it’s not…. We also have a deep love and appreciation for Native American culture, because of frequent vacations to our cabin in Ruidoso, New Mexico (Sprucewood).   Ruidoso is largely populated by Mescelero Apache Indians.

Years ago, we were personally invited to one of their celebrations with many of the authentic teepees set up.   It was a church dedication. The Indians were in their native outfits, beating the drums, singing native songs.  We watched them dance around the huge bonfire for hours on end. These pictures were not taken by me (no photography was allowed), but they depict exactly what happened, and what they wore. Every picture is of Mescalero Apache Indians doing their historical, traditional tribal dances, like we saw:

We were the only invited non-Mescalero Apache Indians there, except the church staff; it was an honor.  An Indian sitting beside me translated the words they were saying. They had been doing some refurbishing on their historical church, and were now rededicating the new and improved church to the Lord and His use, so it was all basically prayer and thankfulness to Jesus being chanted around the bonfire.

This was the church they were dedicating. The inside is AMAZING. All the paintings of Jesus and the disciples depict them as indians. I loved that:


It was an AMAZING, unforgettable night…and our already huge love of teepees and Indian culture just sank deeper into my children’s, husband’s, and my hearts.

We’ve wanted a teepee ever since….just because of what it was used for, its unique design, and to bring home a bit of Indian culture to share with our friends and family.

We went home and did tons of research on them. The poles themselves weren’t expensive….but SHIPPING them was insane (hundreds)! Seeing that they’d be 25′ long, I guess that explains why.  Therefore, we put the idea of buying a teepee on the back-burner….back then….


Now, here we were, a few years later…..on the drive home from Fredericksburg…with this “dream” about a rustic Bed & Breakfast being verbalized in detail during the car ride home.   We thought that this (non-existant) “place” would be great for a teepee, as well, right by the (non-existant) cabin and (non-existant) water! Wow. I wanna go!

What seemed particularly interesting about this discussion was that we were thinking the same things at the same time.  I would say something about the farmhouse sink that we had just bought from the woman months before this, and he would say that he was just thinking the exact same thing.  I’d mention putting a teepee outside, and…oddly…he was thinking the same thing at the same time.

This went on and on for a quite a while; same thoughts at same time.  As our ideas were verbalized, it became obvious to both of us that we were “imagining” pretty much the same structure in our minds.  One that doesn’t exist!   It became borderline creepy, honestly.

I finally asked him, “Is this a God-thing, or just a really weird conversation?” He wasn’t sure, either…but fully agreed that there was something to it, unlike other random conversations we have had over the years.

I told him to go to his mom’s house on the way home so we could talk with her about it.  She’s not “psychic” or anything…but over the years, she is one of the first people we go to for wise counsel and to sort out our thoughts.  I’ve watched intently how God has led her over the years….preventing her from heading into certain directions, or prompting her into others.  So, if anyone would have a firmer grasp on what what going on in our minds right now, it might be her.   Oddly, he said that he had already thought of her and was on his way there….


That evening we ran the whole concept by her:  finding land, building an old, rustic cabin Bed & Breakfast with a teepee, and have a tank stocked with fish. She said it sounded just like us, and a great idea!

I asked how we could know if it was “God-thing”, as opposed to just some random idea.  After all, we were very accustomed to God dropping such unexpected and profound ideas and instructions into our minds (www.GrettysGrapesAndGrains.com  tells many of them).  This was par for the course. But, if this was not His will and plan for our lives, then we didn’t want it.

She said that none of these plans could take place without land.   If we couldn’t find land, then there’s no building or tank (pond).

She was right.  (Duh)  So, out of sheer curiosity, the next day we searched for available land….just to see.

After looking at tons of properties (in one day) we found one that we loved.  (Uh-oh)

It seemed too good to be true, honestly.   The land we found was only 15 minutes from our house, 11 acres of thick woods, and had a dry creek running through it.

We had owned a sailboat for years. It had been for sale for over a year. The monthly “docking” fee we paid was the same amount this land would be per month. What a great trade-off! (If God would just sell the boat for us! Hint hint God…)

Now it was becoming serious.  I was nervous!   We had actually found potential land!   Sooooo….was this God’s pre-planned ideal and instruction for our lives????  Or was it simply available land with some freaky similar visions for a Bed & Breakfast that we could just disregard and move on??

If it was God, then we “should” do it.   (Yikes.  LIFE CHANGE ahead!)

We didn’t rush into anything.  For over a week, we asked God every day to make it clear to us if we were supposed to do this…. or brush it all off as a fun ride home and random conversation filled with dreams.

Each morning, I’d read a certain chapter in Proverbs first, and then Steve would read it…and we’d compare which verses seemed to pop out at us.   Furthering the “weird” experiences…it was always the same verses that stood out to each of us.   Most of the ones that stood out were advice to “seek wise counsel”.

Following those instructions, we told our families, and many friends.  Some of the friends wanted to actually see the land.  But whether people went out to see it, or just heard our accounts on the phone, all of our “wise counsel” unanimously agreed that it was ideal for us, and something we should pursue.    No one had a single yellow flag to give us…and believe me, I was BEGGING for them to tell me any cautions they felt about the situation.  They all said, “Nope….don’t have any!”


I was now officially FREAKED OUT!!! Was this SERIOUSLY happening??? I never saw it coming!   The “vision” was a good one, and made sense for our lives.   Steve would be retiring from the fire department in the near future,

and this was something we could do with our kids.

So, we bit the bullet (which are light snacks for us here in Texas) and bought the land.    (WHAT???!!!)
It helped ease our nervousness to know that we could always sell it if we had to.

There’s a Cottonwood tree growing next to the dry creek that runs through our property; thus, the name seemed to be a natural one. We named this new place “Cottonwood Creek“.

Now we were land owners.  (Yikes.)  Didn’t see that coming!   Now what?

The next post is “Buying a 25′ Teepee“.  Find out what happened next; click on the link.

Or click on What is Cottonwood Creek to understand the full story a little quicker.

To read many of my own, personal experiences with God, and very specific, amazing answers to prayer, go to www.GrettysGrapesAndGrains.com


5 thoughts on “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek!

  1. You’re so sweet. You two had one of the biggest parts of all! Literally!! ha ha. We wouldn’t have the pond to sit by if it weren’t for you. I’ll pass this message along to Steve. Call us anytime you want to go out and see it, or stay in it.


  2. My goodness you guys have been busy! We felt so blessed to have been just a tiny part of all of it. I wish we would have known about all the work you were doing, we would have loved to have helped. Our fish pond is overstocked and we could get rid of some fish if Steve wants to give Michael a call, he could come some time when our son is here. Our son knows how to cast the net and not hurt the fish, we have since dug another tank and moved some over into it just to get the opulation down in our original one. We have bass, channel cat, and perch. the fishing is great over here, our cats are about 18 inches long now, so fun to catch. We also have a friend who lets us catch at his pond for bass, which is highly over populated and we caught a bunch from 2 – 3 lbs and moved over to our pond. Anyway, we would love to go out and see the place sometime. And, call or stop by and get some fish one day 210-422-4255. Your blog warmed my heart, what a blessing your family has experienced.
    Rosalie and Michael Lopez


  3. Gretty, from the first time I sat in church and heard your testamony; I knew the intensity of your relationship with our Lord. Truly you and your family “know His voice” and He directs your steps and in your obedience so many are blessed. I celebrate your newest adventure with our Lord, thank you for drawing us in and allowing us to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.


  4. I am so proud of all of you and I am so blessed to be a part of all of this. You know how much I love you all and how blessed I am by your friendship. My cup runneth over…..


  5. Gretchen, you and Steve inspire me! I am so glad you sent us the latest installment of your blog. I have always loved hearing how God is speaking so clearly to your family. We miss you guys! Our love from Austin.


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