Time


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T-I-M-E

It’s such a short word.

That’s fitting, I guess, seeing that we never seem to have enough of it.

We can’t BUY ourselves enough minutes in a day to complete all that we need to do…with Christmas looming in our immediate midst.

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We REALLY don’t want to be living in the b&b for Christmas, if we can help it…though it wouldn’t kill us.  (And, our wise neighbor Jacob said it might be an adventure that the kids have positive memories about later.  MUCH MUCH MUCH later.)

It doesn’t make sense to move back into our home (that’s still for sale), because we don’t have a tv, cable, or internet there anymore, and work 12-16 hour days in the log house.  We have our dogs, and have to keep the house “clean” for potential showings.

So, it makes much more convenient sense to live in the b&b, on property, while building.  But it’s very cramped with a large dog kennel, suitcases, school books, 2 big dogs, the girls’ keyboard piano, and more (in 300 sq feet).

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One of the first signs (and major inconveniences) of time running away from us this past few weeks was a sudden plummet in temperatures in South Texas.  It has been in the 30’s (Fahrenheit), which is HIGHLY UNUSUAL for our part of the country…especially in November.

Normally we love such wintery temperatures!  We all too gladly light up the fireplace, start baking winter goodies, and  covet hot tea, lattes from Starbucks, or cocoa.

But now?  We didn’t have a heater in the Bed and Breakfast. (Oops.)  We had to run home and grab tons of extra blankets and all our ski gear.  (And find a place for it in our already confined quarters.  Do I sound like I’m complaining??)

Getting out of the bathtub has been particularly interesting.  Nothing like chipping icicles off your limbs after a nice, hot bath. images

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For days on end we worked in the log house FREEZING, watching steam literally billow from our mouths and nostrils as we breathed and spoke.  INSIDE!

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The “timing issue” with the decrease in temperature is that…concrete doesn’t like cold.  Our Master Chinker, Reiley, tried and tried to get the mortar to stay between the logs in the wall.  But, alas, the concrete won.

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So we have been forced to WAIT to finish interior chinking…either until the temperatures rise again, or until we have doors and closed-in bird blocks (the boards that seal the gap between the walls and ceiling).

Speaking of “timing”…we got the air conditioning installed.   (See the irony???  A/c going in on the day we’re wearing ski gear indoors, and huddling around a heater?  You can’t buy irony like that.)

Those of you who are reading this from Russia, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, England,  Canada, etc  (people in 18 countries are now reading the blog!) don’t have to think about air conditioning in your home.  But, when it gets 105 degrees Fahrenheit here…you bet I’m getting it.

Trying to install such a huge system, while also trying to hide it… without an attic, and only half of the house having a second floor or framed walls for ducts to go in….was very tricky.  But, it worked.  We put the unit in the minimal attic space above the kids’ bathroom, and ran the ducts down the corner of Reese’s room, and across the upper corner of our bedroom wall, and under a portion of our kitchen ceiling (which will get covered). 20131202-145336.jpg

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Here again was our “timing” issue.  Steve had already wired, prior to the a/c designer/planner coming out.  After the man saw the house, he didn’t want any ducts to ruin the look of the logs.  So, we spent a long time calculating and planning precisely where the ducts should run.

We had a firm appointment for the actual installation.  We also had a standing appointment for the sheetrockers….right on the heels of the a/c.   You realize that sheet-rockers and air conditioning installers run on jam-packed calendars; we aren’t their only customer.

These appointments could not be postponed; they were all booked up for weeks after our appointments.  The companies were already booked past Christmas.  So, it all had to happen now…. or much later.

The problem???

After meeting with the a/c designer, Steve had two days to move Reese’s door, and move outlets.  These are time consuming tasks, but he managed to get the job done before the air conditioning installers arrived. IMG_7282

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After they were done, he only had a few days to do all the plumbing, change more wiring, and now frame around all the new ductwork before sheetrockers came.  I had to put in insulation between the living room/dining room and our bath and bedrooms (for sound).  I can’t begin to tell you how much work this is.

We worked until 2 am the night before they came, plus the majority of the day WHILE they were working, and til 11 pm after the sheetrockers LEFT… just trying to get it all done before walls were completely closed in the next morning.

Can you say STOP THE CLOCK!!?  Steve was VERY stressed out, and absolutely exhausted, balancing all of this labor with fighting fires all night at the fire station.  That which does not kill you makes you stronger?   We will be STRONG!!!

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While he was wiring and plumbing, I stained our kitchen and dining room ceiling twice (this is only a small corner of it)…IMG_7760

I bleached the whole living room ceiling 10 times minimum (this pic only shows one small section of it), and both girls’ bedroom ceilings at least 10 times to kill any and all mildew that had grown during the summer when we had so much rain and no metal roof yet.  (Water leaked through the staples of black paper.)   Now it’s all spotless.  Here is a picture of “before”…IMG_6477

I stained the loft ceiling (took this pic when I was halfway done, but hadn’t touched rafters yet…and see?  no mildew!)…IMG_7536

Just listing everything we’ve done in the past 3 weeks on this blog hardly expresses the level of stress and pure exhaustion we have felt.

Once the sheetrockers arrived that first day, I was all too happy to walk OUT of the house and AWAY.  I retreated to the woods.

I have a “thinking spot” on our land.  It’s here that I sat and dreamed of where the house would someday sit.  I hadn’t been to my spot since we built the b&b…over a year ago.  A visit there was LONG overdue in my heart.

Absolutely exhausted, I slumped down into the leaves, and just looked around.  I could see the house…and acres of trees. 20131202-164138.jpg

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Finally being in the peace and quiet, away from construction, and in the spot where I’ve had many chats with God, the tears started streaming.  I just broke. (Sometimes you just need a good cry.)

I reflected on how He got us out there in the first place…two (or 3??) years ago…with only a very unexpected and unplanned-for vision (mental picture inspiration)  of a Bed and Breakfast to build… and nothing but pure and utter faith/trust that “Almighty God” actually put that vision in our hearts to build.

I mean…come on.  Even writing that, I can see how it sounds to those who read and hear about it.  “You did what?”

I’ve gotta tell ya…I lived for 26 years without listening to, or even looking for God in my life.  In fact, due to childhood circumstances and what seemed like “God” not answering my prayers, I teetered between not believing in Him, or just not liking or respecting Him enough to think about Him.

There came a day when I chose to give up fighting against and resisting Him.  Instead, I relunctantly told Him He had my permission to control my life.  Control is such a hardcore word.  We all avoid it. 

Wow. Instant and immediate changes started taking place.  

I suddenly learned how to hear Him.  Ever since then, actually “doing” the crazy instructions and ideas that He seems to place in my mind and heart…is nothing short of a total and complete act of trust in a God that I cannot see, and is a way of life that most people choose not to do, or think is stupid or ridiculous.  I thought that way long ago, so I totally get it.

But, in the 17 years that I’ve been completely dedicated to Him hook-line-and sinker, He has filled my life with these things you’re reading about in this blog, and more. (For tons more of my personal stories of major encounters with God, go to www.GrettysGrapesAndGrains.com)

It’s never ever “easy” to know for sure if the ideas are “Him” guiding…or “my” thinking.  In this specific situation that started all of this building 2-3 years ago (building the Bed and Breakfast….go to post called “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek”), both Steve and I had the same identical “vision” (picture in our heads), and all the wise counsel we shared it with agreed that it was perfect for us.

After much begging with God to please CLOSE doors if building out here was NOT His Grand Plan for our lives…and no doors closed…we bit the bullet.

It took absolute and total trust on our part.  I’ll tell you, it was very scary.  And don’t think for one minute that we didn’t question the logic of it many times.

But, we commenced buying this land and building the b&b, just trusting that God would provide the materials to complete the task that He seemingly gave us.  “Time” would tell (appropriate for this blog post title, eh?).

MIRACULOUSLY, as we came to each step of the build (exterior walls…interior walls…ceiling…loft boards…sinks…lighting fixtures…you name it…of the Bed and Breakfast) we were literally GIVEN just about every single scrap of wood and furniture necessary to make it, except insulation, framing wood, and wiring (WHICH were…coincidentally…the only things we failed to ask God for along the way.  hmm?)   You can read the whole story on our earlier posts, starting with “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek”.

And now???   We’re living in that Bed and Breakfast.  We’re literally LIVING in that completed, incredible Bed and Breakfast “vision” that Steve and I saw in our heads on the drive home from Fredericksburg that day (in our first blog posting)…equipped with pond, farmhouse sink, clawfoot tub, and all; that precise vision we mutually had, and couldn’t understand at the time.IMG_0303

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Little could we have known…back then… that God was having us first build our temporary “home away from home”, in advance, to live in… as we now build the mortgage-free home that He seemed to inspire our minds and hearts to build just after finishing the b&b a year ago.

This is all in answer to prayers voiced 1-2 years ago for help with finances.  Wow.

We took the Log Home Builders Association class a year ago November (2012).  We sat in this room to learn how to start…and what to do.  We left Vegas filled with excitement and possibilities, ready to get to work and find a logger.  We broke ground in January…and here we are today. (If any photo doesn’t show up, just click on it)

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I just can’t mentally grasp it.

Now, here I was, in my thinking spot nestled in the leaves …and I could see it….my home…my log home…in the very spot I had only previously visualized it being one day.  It’s here!   (It’s actually here….)

And little could I have EVER predicted the quality family bonding time we’ve had along the way…watching my young children driving and operating telehandlers, man-lifts, chinking, framing, and more…  IMG_1202

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Little could I have foreseen the stream of visitors we’ve had…

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IMG_2490These are just a few pictures of friends who came to visit.  I have failed to get pics of all of them.  And, I didn’t pull out the camera, ever, for all the strangers who have come out weekly…and still do… to see the house.  “Log lookers.”  We just had 4 this week.

It has amazed us.  There are houses going up all over the world, and in our town.  But, our log home is attracting people.  It’s different.  It’s mysterious.  It’s utterly insane to some, and a dream for others.

My mind just can’t grasp that there are people like you (whom I don’t know), seeing pictures of my home and family, in your homes in places like Malaysia, Greece, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Belarus, Hungary, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Ireland, Finland, Qatar, India, Korea, Japan, and dozens more.  [Update: as of 9/2015, over 100 countries are reading]

(Is this reeeeally MY life???)

All we’ve done is follow the inspired ideas that we THINK God is giving us, and I’ve written about it…step by cautious and curious step…and all of this has happened as a result.

This is what I thought about in that pile of leaves, with God.

I cried.  I was utterly drained.  Well beyond mentally and physically overwhelmed.

Every day we wake up and walk down a dirt road from the b&b to the log house…

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And every day, several times a day, I walk back to the b&b and see this sign that I had placed a year ago, reminding future guests that this is a place to find peace and solitude.
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I have to laugh (or roll my eyes) every time I walk by it lately, because if ANYONE needs “rest” now…it’s me (us).  But, there’s no time for it, yet.  (Some day…)

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and let Me give you rest.”   (Matthew 11:28)

So… I sat there with Him, in the leaves, and poured out my heart, my thankfulness, my stress, and my exhaustion to Him.  I didn’t “have to”.  I just felt like venting to Him.  Maybe He was listening.  

The whole time I sat there, everything around me was just….still.  Not even a wisp of breeze.  Very peaceful.  

Then, in a moment of gratitude, I barely lifted an open palm towards Him, as a gesture of “thank You”….

The very second my elbow slightly bent and open palm faced the sky, a sudden breeze blew through, releasing an absolute SHOWER of thousands of leaves all around me from every tree.  

The “timing” could not have been more perfect.  The words that immediately came to my mind were, “Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.”  (James 4:8)  He had been listening.  He was hanging out with me all along. 

It was magical.  Every verse of Scripture in the Bible is a promise from God to you and me.  Jesus said to come to “Him” if we are weary and burdened…and said when we do, “He” will give us the “rest” we need.   Why don’t we do it??  Do we not believe it can be that simple? 

In that instant of coming to Him in my weariness and burden, He literally gave me “rest.”  Immediately.  From deep within, I suddenly and miraculously felt completely rested, filled, and ready to get back…at least for a while.

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In the time I was gone, the sheetrockers got a ton accomplished.  They came back the next day to finish up, and the tapers/floaters followed on their heels.  IMG_7840

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We rented tall scaffolding, and Steve spray-stained the living room ceiling and Ridge pole.

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We started putting up bird blocks outside.  Steve cut boards to fit between each rafter.   I passed the nail gun through the neighboring opening to him…and on down the row we went.

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One last thing to “report” on.   A local reporter, Pascalle Bippert, came out to interview with us for the newspaper.  That was pretty darn exciting!  We had a fabulous time chatting and getting to know each other.  She had heard about our b&b and log home build, and wanted to come see it.  She took loads of pictures, asked about the whole process, and plans to come back several more times.

The whole community will know about this place and the blog before long.

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My mind is totally blown by this whole experience.

According to King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, there IS a ‘time’ for everything under the sun.

He also said, “…people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.  So I concluded that there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.  And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” (Ecc 3:11-13)

It’s finally TIME to end this blog post.  Thank you for reading.  I hope it’s blessing you. To go on to the next post, click here: “Christmas”  

If you’re just stumbled onto this post from the internet, and don’t know about this blog, click here: “What’s Cottonwood Creek”.  

If you want to start from the beginning of our chronological story, click here: “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek”, which explains how we got out here to this land, and built a 130-year old guest house that you can stay in.  If you want to read about how we built this log house from scratch, click here: “What do Vegas and logs have in common?”   

4 thoughts on “Time

  1. Hello Steve and Gretchen,

    This is LHBA member Ken (Kento). My wife and I will be in San Antonio over Christmas. We’d love to help you out while we’ll be in Texas. I sent a personal message to Steve’s address on the LHBA website with our contact info.

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  2. Hi Maria!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. Your words are a true encouragement. I hope you have as much fun building as we’ve had. It’s exhausting going non-stop and aiming for such a close deadline…but each step has been fun. I’ll be sad when it’s all done, but also thrilled to just live in it :).

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  3. Dear Gretchen!
    This is an LHBA member Maria (slamasha). Just wanted to express the support and enthusiastic endorsement to your build as well as genuine respect to your Faith and your ability to lavishly update the tough journey in this blog! I thought that encouragement and support from an “external world”, from an unknown person could add some more strength and confidence. We follow your build and learn a lot form you. Your persistent aspiration and execution really inspire! THANK YOU and GOOD LUCK!

    Like

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