‘Are we there YET??”


How many unfinished projects do you have?

(Is that a sore topic?)

Life gets in the way, doesn’t it?

Well…life or money. Maybe both.

The last time I updated you was December and our big “Downton Abbey/Dickens” dinner party. (If you just stumbled across this post, and haven’t seen our blog before, then I encourage you to read “What is Cottonwood Creek?”, “What is this blog about?”, or “Camping in a pearl necklace”.   I thoroughly explain the purpose of this blog in each those, and show pictures.  Welcome! We’re being read in over 100 countries!)

Work around our house slowed down to a total halt during December, January and February for various reasons (if you just want to see updated pics of what we’ve gotten done, skip down..)

But, starting around the end of February (2016), during my daily time with the Lord, He put the word “finish” in my head, in regards to our house, the B&B (McGuire House), and the book I’ve been researching and writing for 7-8 years (building sorta got in the way…)…

When God gives assignments, they have a HUGE purpose (even seemingly small assignments).  They need to be completed.

In addition to hearing “finish” in my head during my time with Him, I then ran across the verse from Apostle Paul, “See to it that you complete the ministry God has given you.” (Mark 6:31). It may as well have ended with “…Gretchen,” because it hit my heart in a millisecond, whereas perhaps I’d normally glaze right over it.

Only days after reading that, I read a couple of devotionals  in my email that were about “finishing” whatever tasks He seems to give.


And, as if THOSE weren’t enough, I heard 2 sermons about “finishing” what God places in our lives before He’ll let us move on to something else.

ALL of this was in 1-2 weeks.


(…if only I could figure out what God seems to be saying??)

I could brush it all off as coincidence, or ignore it, but it all makes perfect sense…

Our land, log house and guest house (and teepee) aren’t simply our home…as perhaps they’d be for others.  Cottonwood Creek is our ministry; offering people rest.  We’ve known that since first purchasing this land.  Particularly for church staff members, who need rest and quiet so badly.

“God has told His people, ‘Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” Isaiah 28:12

I know it was Him telling me (us) to “finish”, because in the past couple of months He’s been bringing people out here, already.

For example, every year our church has a weekend dedicated to the teenagers. It’s called Breathe Weekend.  This year it was at the end of January.  I prayed about what my family and I should do to participate.  The thought that came to my head after asking Him was, “Host the band”.

Not knowing for sure if that was God, or my own thought, I texted our youth minister (Jeff) and offered our home for that use.  This is the first year we’ve been at this new church (Grace Bible).

Jeff immediately contacted me back, saying that he was just getting ready to ask me if we would house the band!  (That’s what I call “a God-thing”.)

The 5-member band, and guest speaker came to stay at our house all weekend.  I was in my element cooking all of their meals for them. (If any pictures don’t appear, just click on them.)IMG_5772
That Sunday, at the close of Breathe, the speaker preached to the whole church.  He told them about our log house and B&B, and how we planned to use it for ministry.  He called our Cottonwood Creek, “Paradise Lodge”.  I loved that.

A woman from the church (Tammy) heard the speaker’s comments.   She approached us after church and inquired about it.  She organizes events and housing for the church, and other tasks.  As it turned out, we had mutual friends.  So, Steve and I arranged a dinner/reunion/tour for her (and her husband, who couldn’t make it) with our mutual friends.


As a result of that dinner, we received 2 calls from other church members with ideas about group Bible studies, youth events, couples’ date nights, men’s group meetings, etc, taking place out here.  It would appear that the ball has started rolling!

In March (2016), a family who found our blog contacted us.  They took the LHBA class that we took.  They hoped to see our house before building their own.  We cooked lunch for them. Their kids played with our chickens, got eggs from the coop to take home, and had the full tour of the b&b and house. They gave us amazing Korean pears (yellow) and chocolate desserts.  We had fun making more new friends.




I used to teach Sunday school in the high school department at our old church 10 years ago. One of my old students is all grown up now, and has a family of his own.  He contacted us in February (2016), asking if they could see us and the house sometime soon. We made it happen.  His kids loved getting eggs from the coop to take home.  His son has cerebral palsy and can’t walk, so Steve took him for rides on the tractor; he kept wanting to steer.  (smile)




A local minister and good friend of ours contacted us and asked if he could use the McGuire House for a few hours, to be alone with God.  Jesus said, “Come with Me to a quiet place and get some rest.”  (Mark 6:31)  That’s precisely why we built it.

We also had my sister and mother over to celebrate my sister’s birthday…(my daughter will love that I put this picture of her eating on the Internet.  Shhhh..don’t tell her.)…



There have been more visitors than these, but you get the idea.

In spite of days like these, He still expects us to “finish” the house, so that our focus isn’t divided, so that the McGuire House can finally be used by people (overnight), and so we can put that part of our lives behind us and move on to more important things.

It seems like I’ve told people, “We’re finishing it…”, or “It’s almost done,” thousands of times. It’s way past embarrassing.

This process has taken longer than I wanted, expected, and planned.  But, as I look back on all the pictures from the build, I have to say I’m getting sort of impressed and encouraged to see that we’ve managed to build every single thing out here…the B&B, the house, barn, chicken coop, vegetable garden, streams and pond, etc…ALL in only 4 years!  So…it really shouldn’t be too much longer before we finalize the last of the small tasks.

After all of the “finish” cues He hit me with back-to-back at the end of February, I was officially on a mission.  You could say He put my rear back in gear.

I sat down with pen and paper, and thought about every room and the yard, jotting down every task I could think of.  All together it was a full page (only one side) of notebook paper.  Some tasks required money, but most were just elbow grease and motivation.

With list in hand, Steve and I started knocking them out.  We set goals for each day, and strived until they were done.  Within just a few weeks of spare time in the evenings, and a few weekends, here’s what we’ve accomplished so far…(not everything is pictured below.)

Our backyard…(in February 2016)…

You ready for this??

Abra cadabra!!


Our garden in February…


And now…


Here’s the back side of the house as of February.  Junky.  Tools and unfinished skirting.

We stained/sealed the skirting around the house…
….and spread more rocks around the other sides of the house for landscaping.


The coop is spiffied up a bit with new flowers, and we finally installed nesting boxes for them to lay eggs in, and higher roosts for nighty-night….



(You can’t tell in the picture, but the floor of the coop is just discolored.  It’s completely clean to walk on.  I spend 10 minutes a day cleaning it out and adding to our compost pile.)

On a side-note:  There’s a morning routine in the coop.  Despite an available 16 nesting boxes for egg-laying, the chickens have selected 3-4 of the boxes to do all of their laying in.  This means that when those 3-4 boxes are “occupied”, the other chickens do the only logical thing…they wait…pace….balk non-stop…fuss at the laying birds, and pitch a royal fit, insisting that “those boxes” are the only ones worthy of their “golden” egg.  It makes for a pretty funny morning each day.  These two are “in line”…waiting.



We’ve also been clearing brush around the McGuire House…the Bed & Breakfast, making gardens around it, and burning.  We’re having a Teepee Raising in April, to kick off the completion of the McGuire House for guests (I’ll post pictures of that, of course).  But it’s not done yet….

image image

MANY more jobs have gotten accomplished, but not all were photographed.  I’m down to less than half a page of jobs left!!

Aside from hosting and finishing the house, we have taken time to rest.  In February we took a quick trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico (9 hour drive from our house), to our family cabin to celebrate my daughter’s 18th birthday.


We’ve also been taking care of our bee hive.  Summer is almost here, and so is HONEY! We need to start collecting liquid rent from our buzzing tenants.


Easter just came and went.  I didn’t have to dye eggs for Easter this year; my birdie-girlies supplied me with all we needed. These are literally the colors they produced…


“Easter eggs” symbolize brand new life.  Such a perfect symbol for the day Jesus walked out of His tomb to live a brand new life, and offering us one, too.

Steve’s family came over to celebrate Easter with us.  It was a very relaxing day in the country.

image image image image

I’m looking forward to the next 4-8 weeks.  We’re throwing my niece a wedding shower.  I have out-of-town friends coming to stay for a week in our guest house.  We’re having our Teepee raising.  Steve’s, my mother-in-law’s, and my birthdays are coming up in May.  Dew berries will be ready for picking on our property, and more.  Plus, we’ll be finishing more on that task list.

OurCottonwoodCreek is now on Instagram.  I’ll be putting up pictures of our day-to-day life around here…most of which won’t make it into the blog.

Our next posting will be about the Teepee Raising!  Stay tuned!


5 thoughts on “‘Are we there YET??”

  1. Yay!! Good for you!!! Welcome to the journey! We’d do it all over again.
    Thank you so very much for reaching out again. I dearly love hearing from our readers and knowing that they read and feel inspired or encouraged. That’s the only reason I share any of it. We all need encouraging in this world :). Please keep us informed along your new and exciting journey!!


  2. Wow what a wonderful and inspiring post Gretchen….thanks so much for sharing your journey. I am amazed at how much you and your family are able to accomplish….your place looks beautiful and I love the vision you have for your ministry.
    I contacted you by email back in the winter….wondering about the LHBA course….well we’re now here in Las Vegas taking the class and learning lots….Thanks for you encouragement.


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