I began the last post (called “3 Years Later!”) by telling you about Steve’s work at the fire station, the losses he’s had there, followed by him assisting medically in the church shooting. He’s been asking God for a few years to help him know when to retire, and to point him into a different career for this next part of his life, in addition to his bird taxidermy business. This post will show you how God has been answering that prayer for him and guiding the way. So, this post is the continuation of the previous one.
Just after the November 5, 2017 church shooting of Sutherland Springs, our church in La Vernia asked if we’d be willing to cater their staff Christmas dinner. It was going to be a 5-course, Downton Abbey-style dinner, indoors, for roughly 25-30 people. I just needed more silverware; I had everything else (believe it or not).
I went thrift shopping to find some. One place had a glass display case full of antique copper, brass, silver-plate… and a complete box of antique silverware. It was perfect, but I had to buy the entire case of other things in order to have it; things weren’t sold individually. I hesitated to spend so much money just a few weeks before Christmas, but I thought I’d attempt to sell the other things I didn’t need. Here are a few of the pics I advertised with:
Surprisingly, even though I kept a bunch of the silver-plated items for myself, I sold everything else within the week! I even made a little extra money over what I spent. The timing was perfect. (Thank you God!)
I did it again, out of sheer fun and curiosity. And, once again, I sold it all with profit. (Remember this for later.)
Fully reimbursed, and with new silverware in-hand, we catered the church staff Christmas dinner on December 16, 2017. We moved our living room furniture out onto our log home side porch, out of sight, and brought in tables and chairs, and did our thing…
A week later we celebrated Christmas Eve (2017) with my family, Scandinavian style. It’s always celebrated on Christmas Eve night, and always by candlelight. I LOVE it. Then we have Christmas Day with Steve’s family.
All of the pictures on my long hutch with candles in the dining room are my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents who came from Sweden and Norway who passed down this Christmas tradition and the food we always eat…I love tradition.
Right after Christmas of 2017 we tried selling a few antiques again. Looking for them was so much fun, and making a little extra money connecting an object of history to its new owner was so rewarding!
It was the only hobby I had. Some people shop, others play sports etc….I was buying and selling antiques. Whatever profit I made, I reinvested into buying more.
To my absolute joy, I was buying legitimate 1700s-1940’s antiques! I LOVED them! The only problem was that my “hobby” grew so rapidly, it soon became a small business.
Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s the American Dream, right? But in my case I was nervous that it may have been distracting me from my primary calling…
I confess; I’ve been keeping a very large secret from you (and feel sorta bad about it). Just when you think you know a person…WHAM….they blindside you with some unknown information; but, the time has come for me to share this, I think.
In the same way that God made it clear to Steve and me that we were supposed to buy this land and build the McGuire House and log house [blog post: “Welcome to Cottonwood Creek”], He also made it very clear to me in ~2004/5 that I had a book to write. It’s about what the various world religions and philosophies (including atheism) believe compared to the Bible and Jesus, how each got started in the first place, all about their leaders’ lives, and what “Believe” actually means in the Bible.
I won’t go into detail right now of “how” He gave me this assignment (because the story is long), but I assure you...it was an obvious instruction rather than an ongoing idea in my own mind. It certainly wasn’t my personal desire or goal to write such a book. I’m not a writer, and never ever dreamed of being one (though you’d never know it from my 1000-page posts in this blog). And, I certainly never wanted to learn the world religions. The whole notion of writing such a book was 100% off my radar, and undesirable to me.
I’m keenly aware of how many other books there are on the market explaining the various religions. This is one logical reason why I was personally stumped and bewildered as to “why” He’d give me a job that had already been done by many others. But, when I asked Him about it, the words that came back to my mind and heart were, “The more the better.” It made sense, so I proceeded.
After extensive prayer over it, hoping I was incorrect, God answered me in profoundly obvious ways that I really did have a book to write. So I proceeded to do the research and started writing it. He didn’t want me to just be familiar with the teachings of the other religions and philosophies (and atheism/Darwinism, etc); I couldn’t merely jot down a few quick summaries about them. He wanted me to fully understand them as well as those who practice them, and be able to teach them, comparing them to the words of the Bible. So, I did.
The God-given assignment to write the book began just months, or a year before we moved to La Vernia from San Antonio. Reese was barely a toddler. I was writing it while in the midst of building our previous house (featured in the blog post called: “Butterfly Fly Away”). In that post you’ll see pictures of the travel trailer we lived in while building that house. I would sit at the dining table of the trailer typing away on the days Steve was at the fire station (which seems so long ago now).
I spent about 7-8 (veeeery long) years throwing myself full-on, almost every day, like a full-time job into studying the religions. I learned from those who practice them, as well as university philosophy professors, books, websites, you name it. It took me 1.5 years just to learn Hinduism from Hindus and their Vedas and other ancient texts…for example. I’ve read the Quran 3 times and learned Islam from Muslims and ex-Jihadists. I learned Buddhism from Buddhist monks and the Tripitaka/Pali Canon…. and I learned the rest of the philosophies and religions from their top sources.
Basically, I’ve learned all about paganism at its core roots, all its symbols and practices and forms, as well as fully learned about Darwin and atheism’s explanations for life without God at all. I’ve written every bit of it down. It’s taken years of my life and I’ve received zero pay for any of it.
I was often up studying until 4am for years, when the house was quiet. I did this while also raising my girls, homeschooling them, building our other home, and doing the things pictured and mentioned in the “Butterfly Fly Away” post.
When I finished learning each religion and philosophy and wrote a chapter for each one, I asked several of “my teachers” [ex-Buddhist monks, ex-Hindu priests, ex-Jihadist muslims, etc] to please read them to see if I learned those faith systems correctly; if anyone would know, it would be people who made a living teaching them! They each said I got it all correct, or told me the few suggestions I needed to tweak.
After I completed each religion and philosophy (but not the book in general), we started building the McGuire House [a guest house on our 11 acres, detailed in the first few blog posts], and I started writing this blog. So, as you read the first few posts of this blog, I had just completed learning all the religions and was taking a brief 5-month break from writing the book. It was a relief to me! Building gave me a much-needed break from studying and writing such intense material.
Ever since we finished the McGuire House and most of our log house [also detailed in previous posts], I returned to the book. I’ve dedicated the vast majority of my daily life these past few years to finishing it, which is another reason for my blog silence for this last 3 years. Writing the book has definitely been my unpaid full-time job for about 13-14 years now. It’s written in the same tone of voice and style as this blog…conversational and simple; I don’t know any other way to write.
I told my husband Steve that it feels so strange to be with family, friends, or even strangers, and not mention what I do with 3/4 of my daily life. It’s just simply not a topic that I can introduce without it turning into major (and potentially uncomfortable) discussion. So in the interest of spending enjoyable and relaxing time with loved ones, I simply don’t bring it up; I figured that people can just read it when it’s done, if they want. If no one ever reads it, that’s perfectly fine with me; I’ll stick it in a drawer and move on with my life. I’ll know that I fulfilled an assignment God gave me, and I’ll simply move on to the next assignment.
Perhaps some people think I’m crazy. I know some will say that “God” doesn’t exist…that He doesn’t communicate…and that being “told to” write the book was all in my imagination, or was self-inflicted…
There’s absolutely zero question in my mind that Almighty Creator God exists…but I admit that I used to question many times if He indeed told me to write this book. In fact, I quit writing it three different times, months apart from each other, while living at our old house, because it was SO hard!
No one knew that I had quit, because I didn’t anticipate doing it; each time was spontaneous. Steve didn’t even know. God prevented Jonah from heading the opposite direction of Nineveh, and didn’t let Moses talk his way out of facing Pharaoh (Exodus 4:1, 10, 13), so this isn’t unusual of God at all. I’m telling you…He’s the exact same God today as He was in Moses’ and Abraham’s day.
I think the letter I received the first time I quit the book shocked me the most; I went to check the mail right after slamming my computer shut, telling Him “I quit! No more!” The letter was there, freshly delivered, waiting in my mailbox minutes later. It had to be mailed 2 days prior…showing me that He omnisciently knew my future decision and hedged me off, like He did by creating a very large fish to be in the very specific vicinity to swallow Jonah and protect him in the water. (True story, by the way.)
God knew I’d actually listen to Him and obey Him, and get back to writing.
Weeks later I quit again. I closed my computer telling Him I’d no longer do it. I was officially done and didn’t care what letter He had waiting in the mailbox this time. I then got up to eat lunch, and sat back down to check my email. A friend had just written to me, while I was eating, telling me that she had been in Bible study all morning and the words flowing through her mind the whole time were “Tell Gretchen not to quit the book.” So, she emailed me upon getting home. She, of course, had no idea that I had just quit the book minutes before, while she was driving home from the Bible study. In other words, God had been filling her head with those words before I had closed my computer! He was, again, steps before me.
The third time I quit, I closed my computer (or maybe I slammed it?) and the phone rang. The timing was on-point. It was my mother-in-law. She used to own a quilt shop in San Antonio. When I answered the phone she told me a customer had just left her shop, and something strange happened. She hadn’t seen this woman in a long time. They started chatting the minute she walked into the shop. Somehow my book came up, which my mother-in-law never talked about with customers (or anyone). The woman asked what the book was about. After my mother-in-law told her, the woman stepped away for just a minute, and came back with a piece of paper with a woman’s name on it and a phone number. She told my mother-in-law to give it to me, even though she didn’t know me. Then she left!
My mother-in-law said it was so strange…the customer didn’t shop or even look around! She was a regular customer who hadn’t been there in months or longer…but didn’t buy anything or even attempt to. It was as though she had come solely to chat with Dixie and give her that number to pass along to me. So, I called the woman on the paper. Turns out, she was told by God to write a book, too, years before. She wasn’t a writer either. She told me if God told me to write a book, then I better finish it.
Seriously….what are the odds?
That’s not a coincidence. And, it means that once again, like the letter being mailed 2 days before, and like my friend hearing God telling her to tell me not to quit, hours before I actually quit, this woman had the “idea” to go to the quilt shop that morning…when there was obviously nothing she needed to shop for… or else she would have shopped! She loaded into the car and drove all the way there…before I had closed my computer. She chatted with my mother-in-law before I closed my computer. She wrote down the telephone number before I had closed my computer. As my mother-in-law watched her leave and headed over to the phone, I then closed my computer and told God, “No more!” (Ring-ring!)
Just for fun, let’s see how God dealt with Jonah, because he acted just like I did. I’ll shorten 3 chapters into one paragraph:
“The word of the LORD [an instruction from Him] came to Jonah…: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish [the exact opposite direction]…he found a ship…went aboard and sailed…to flee from the LORD [I closed my computer and told Him “No.”]. Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea [He sent me a letter in the mail]…Then the sailors…asked him, ‘Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do?…’ He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD [there is only one; Isiah 45:5], the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land….Pick me up and throw me into the sea…it will become calm. I know that it was my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’…Now the LORD had prepared [omnisciently anticipating Jonah’s moves] a great fish [not whale] to swallow Jonah [and a letter for me to read], and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights….And the LORD commanded the fish [not whale], and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah [God gave him the instruction, again, like He told me, “Write the book”] a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ Jonah [this time] obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh [who worshiped a fish-god, by the way, and now here was Jonah having come out of a fish to tell them about the one True God, YHWH]…The Ninevites believed God.”
All the residents of Nineveh repented [chose to stop their sinful lifestyles] and turned away from their mythological fish-god and other idols, and turned only to YHWH. Jesus later backed up this historical fact and said they all viewed Jonah as a sign from the one true God [Luke 11:30], and that they will judge us [Luke 11:32].
We are told to read the Bible. We are told the words in it are His Own words, which they are [Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16]. He wanted them written down so you and I can read today how He guided people back then, when His words were being written down, because He still guides you and me in the exact same ways, so that His planned purposes can occur, to lead people to heaven with Him. Not everyone will enter a church, and not everyone will read a Bible or Scripture verses on a sign or a mim, but He can’t be dodged. He wasn’t just in the synagogues and in the temple in Jerusalem. He was surrounding the sailors on Jonah’s ship; they all ended up turning to Him, too. In fact, He caused you to read this right now.
Here are a few quotes directly from God’s mouth that perfectly apply and back up all of this:
*God Himself says: “In their hearts [mind/soul] humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
*”Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14
*”What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
He obviously gave me the task of writing the book, so I’ve actively been completing it. It’s been a full-time job in the midst of everything else you’ve ever seen on this entire blog.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says “…God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so you can endure it.” I was tempted to quit my calling, like Jonah did. Moses was tempted to say no to facing Pharaoh. In all three cases, God pulled Moses, Jonah, and me where we needed to be. (I’m not comparing or aligning myself with the famous prophets Jonah and Moses, but doing what we all should do…using their lives, obedience, and how God dealt with their choices as an example to follow in our own lives.) God indeed provided my “way out” of quitting through the pre-planned letter, email and phone call.
But now there was this new, growing antiques business, as well. I couldn’t imagine that God wanted me to prioritize selling antiques over writing the book, after stopping my quitting three times. The antiques were taking up hours out of each of my days, to find them and learn the histories. But it sure felt natural, and doors were opening left and right, sales were coming in, and I hit no obstacles along the way….but his letter, email, and phone call to me were clear obstacles to my quitting the book.
Confused, I asked Him to please make it very clear to me if HE placed this new antiques venture into my life, or was it something I simply stumbled into that was taking me away from the book and needed to stop? Was selling antiques a temptation that I was falling into? Was my worrying over it Him convicting me, or just me worrying for nothing? Was He testing my faithfulness to Him?
I love antiques, but I love Jesus more than anything else. He is FAR more valuable than an object of history, or the dollars I was earning selling them. Selling them was fun for me. It was also a form of earning some extra money. I don’t get paid to research or write the book, which has been a full-time job for over a decade. I’ve only done it out love for and obedience to Him. And, we’ve never charged a single dime for housing any of the bands or speakers, or hosting the campouts, or catering all the dinners, or anything. Never. We only ask for reimbursement for food for the large events like catering or campouts. Our only income has been Steve’s fire fighting and birds.
Don’t get me wrong…It’s not that people haven’t offered and tried to pay us; no one has used us. Steve and I just mutually agreed that each of those events were God’s idea and plan, and that we were simply allowing Him to utilize our hands and time to carry out His intentions to bless and meet others’ needs….
So, receiving a small income through antiques was unexpected, new, and fun to me…but not if it got in the way of doing what He created and called me to do.
I knew how He guided us and provided all of the materials for the McGuire House build, and the log house. I knew how He hedged-off my quitting the book. Therefore, I knew He could let me know what course of action to take with this seemingly growing new business, as well. I continued on with antiques while waiting to hear His response, with the faith that if He didn’t want me doing it, He’d simply prevent sales from occurring, because I asked Him to.
I received my answer a few weeks later….
Our church unexpectedly asked me if we’d house another speaker. We’ve housed MANY speakers over the past few years. Most of them have a full time job other than speaking. One was a traveling comedian; two were traveling magicians; one had an online furniture business, etc.
Usually we know about their coming months in advance, but I only had a couple weeks notice for this one (which was totally fine…the timing was clearly God’s.) The McGuire House was available, so we said yes.
As we chatted with the new speaker, and got to know each other, he told me that he’s an ANTIQUE DEALER! Can you believe that?? It was NOT a “coincidence”….
God very deliberately inspired our church staff to hand-select a man who does the exact same thing I had been praying about, who also loves Jesus and listens for Him daily. God used him to give me an audible answer of guidance in my own living room. It was a direct response to my specific questions about whether or not selling antiques was His added path for my life. (Whew!)
*My church staff didn’t know I had been selling antiques, or what I had been conflicted about, so they didn’t deliberately select this particular speaker for my sake. God did.
I told the speaker what had been happening since Christmas with selling. I told him all about my book, how we got out here, and how the McGuire House and log house was built (everything in this blog). I told him I had been praying, asking God to make it clear if He placed this new gig into my life, or if I needed to end it.
The speaker shook his head and told me not to end it. He said God would use antiques to bless us and others. He said God would use antiques to cause others to find us, to hear our story about Him and Cottonwood Creek. Through antiques, people would learn that He’s real and communicates.
According to him, the antiques business was an added blessing…not a wayward path. The Bible agrees: “Take delight in the Lord [which I do; He’s my best friend.], and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. So, trusting that God spoke to me through him, I proceeded. If I was wrong, He could easily prevent my sales.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says He’ll provide a way out if we begin falling for temptation. That ‘way out” could be as simple as a bit of inner-conviction/discomfort with the situation, a perfectly timed person pointing out the potential danger of it, and so on. In this situation, He provided a guest speaker to stay in our home, traveling in His Name, to reassure me that all is well, and proceed. It was such a relief!
Sure enough, since the speaker left, I can’t tell you how many profound stories we’ve already had with customers. He’s guided very specific people to us to hear about Him through their simple interest in an old object of history. We’ve also made many fantastic, new relationships/friendships, as well. I can’t imagine our lives without these new friendships (and you know who you are 💌). The blessings have literally spilled over. And, you won’t believe what He’s done with antiques since then…
I started selling the first things in December 2017 (the Christmas dinner), and had been selling for a couple months by the time the speaker came. By April 2018, 4 months later, we grew so much that Steve suggested we add a room onto his bird studio to use as my at-home shop. We ended up using half of the wood from the farmhouse we tore down (blog post: “Our Next Project”), and a repurposed cedar privacy fence that we picked up for free.
First we renovated Steve’s bird studio, because neither of us wanted potential antique customers to see his wreckage zone. Then we built the antique shop/writing studio. We opened it in May/June 2018. Here are “before” pics of his studio.
Steve’s new shop walls are covered in the old privacy fence boards, scrap metal roofing, and white trim boards from the torn down farmhouse. We already had everything else. (A little different, eh?) Now his bird customers can sit and chat with him while he works. We built that rustic console table from the farmhouse scraps, too.
We still have this same amount of wood leftover to use for the Scandinavian timber frame bed-n-breakfast (another update!).
I advertised each antique on Facebook with a link to our blog. That’s how any customer knew we existed. We had customers coming out daily, and we usually ended up chatting. Many have become lasting friends now. My antique shop grew.
In fact, I outgrew it within months!
It rapidly became too challenging for me to meet with customers out here while also concentrating on finishing the book.
Right about that time, a local antique mall in Seguin (Blue Hills Antique Mall) had a space come available (God’s perfect timing), so we moved a lot of it in there instead. They don’t want vendors to work there, so it worked out perfectly for me and writing.
We started out in this small room. Some of my things went in here, while my home-shop was still packed full.
After the first month, the antique mall owner offered us an additional room…and continued to offer another room…month after month, as they came available; we were most definitely NOT asking for additional rooms!
Expanding made me very nervous every single time. This wasn’t my plan or dream… though I was certainly enjoying it! Assuming it was God offering each new room to us as an added blessing, we filled them. Before we knew it, we were in five whole rooms! I never asked for or requested one single one of them. They were each offered to us, in spite of the other vendors in the same building.
We finally emptied out our home-shop, taking it all to the antique mall, freeing up my days to work solely on the book and to take care of my mother through her surgeries, as well as the other things you’ve seen pictures of in the previous post. The home-shop became my writing studio.
We continued like that for nearly a year. While finding antiques to re-fill each room, I was also writing every day, and juggling all of the other things I’ve told you about: the speakers, bands, visitors, campouts, youth functions, Bible studies, catered meals, the Downton Tea and Mad Hatter for my family…everything pictured in the post “3 Years Later!”.
To say my/our life has been chaos is a mild understatement. But, a very very very blessed and wonderful chaos. Even though I sometimes feel very overwhelmed or stressed trying to keep all of the balls in the air, I wouldn’t change or stop any of it.
During all of this change and growth, He’s also been constantly placing people in our lives…at the fire station, through bird and antique customers who came out here almost daily, and friends and family…telling us to put the McGuire House on Airbnb. I can’t count how many times we’ve been urged to do that…but, we’ve hesitated to act upon this advice for a few years, being uncertain. The reasoning everyone gave us was the appeal of our quiet 11 acres of woods with no traffic and thousands of birds. Cottonwood Creek is relaxing; it’s peaceful. It’s a place to unplug (if you’re a guest...not a Bradbury, obviously).
We were resistant to the idea because we wanted to ensure that the McGuire would remain available for the speakers and bands when they travel; they all have full-time jobs during the week, and willingly leave home all weekend…to use their musical and speaking skills to tell teenagers and adults in other states (and countries) how much Jesus loves them. We’ve adored hearing about their lives, their stories, feeding them, and giving them a mini-vacation out here, as best we could. We don’t want to prioritize making money over housing and feeding them. But it seemed like God was nudging us further into that direction, reassuring us it would all be ok…that He had it all worked out already…
Right in the midst of people routinely advising us to get involved with Airbnb, we found out that the management company who took care of our cabin in Ruidoso, New Mexico had been stealing from us for years. (Talk about feeling blindsided.) We were instantly surrounded by more people encouraging us to put our New Mexico cabin on Airbnb.
It just seemed to Steve and me as though God was patiently and lovingly nudging us into that direction repeatedly. So, we finally decided to try it….
Like the Israelites taking the first frightening steps into the flood-stage Jordan River [Joshua 3] to cross over into Canaan, and like the Apostle Peter stepping out of the boat into the wavy, stormy sea to walk on water to Jesus [Matthew 14:28]…we broke ties with our management company, whom we had needed and leaned upon for years. We literally had no choice but depend upon God for this decision. We were a 9-hour drive from the cabin. Who’d clean it? Who’d take care of the hot tub? Who’d do any repairs? Who could we trust?
On Airbnb, renters write reviews. So, we needed to bump up our game. Steve spent many weeks renovating the bathrooms, and finished long-overdue tasks in our 1940’s cabin, while I worked on the book the entire time, watching him work and assisting him when he needed help. Then we officially listed it! “Sprucewood Cabin” in Ruidoso. Our blog post called “A Third Log Cabin” shows our family totally renovating the entire living/dining/kitchen area a few years ago.
The result? It’s renting more now than it ever has in 13 years with that management company! There hasn’t been one available day! God has taken care of everything.
The added blessing is how personal Airbnb is; we communicate with our renters and get to see pictures of them enjoying our home away from home with their own loved ones, which makes us feel SO good!! Here are ‘after” pics, but to see “before” pics, go to that blog post.
Back at home, it seemed as though our next step was to get the McGuire House ready for renting too. ? So, I cleaned and added a fireplace and few other things to it, making it rentable/livable. I just assumed God would let me know when to put it on Airbnb, because the time hadn’t felt “right” to do that yet. Time would tell when we were supposed to. (The next blog post will tell you what God wanted it prepared for.)
Here’s the road leading back to it from our house…
I began the previous post by telling you about Steve’s desire to retire from the fire department, particularly after the firemen funerals. He’s often wondered what he’d replace firefighting with, besides more birds….
This antiques business seems to be one thing God has provided, and I informed you about the “Scandinavian Timber Frame” bed and breakfast two posts ago (the “Our Next Project” post). Even though God brought it to our attention 3-4 years ago, it wasn’t the right timing to start building it yet…until now.
It took us a few years to study and learn about Scandinavian construction, and timberframe construction. And, we didn’t know we’d be dealing with firing our management company, etc. God gives us a heads-up about our future plans, like when He told Abram he’d have a son…but God didn’t tell Abram it would take 25 years before Isaac was actually born. He told me to write a book, but never told me how long the process would take. He told us to build a Scandinavian bnb, but never told us when to start building it, or how long it would take to do finish it. Leaving those details void forces human beings to look to Him and rely upon Him each day rather than go on auto-pilot without Him.
Once we were done renovating our New Mexico cabin and nervously putting it on Airbnb, and we were done with the McGuire, we realized that it was officially time to start building the Scandinavian; it just felt to both of us that God was filling our heads with it, and nudging us in that direction, finally. One God-wink that we were on His path for us was when a good friend of ours contacted us, telling us that he had found us 150-year old, totally handmade barn timbers from Quebec, Canada! Can’t build an 1800’s-inspired timber frame structure without 1800’s timbers! And we certainly didn’t have time to look for them.
God brought it all TO US, just as He brought the animals to Noah (Genesis 6:20) in order for for HIS plan for the “Scandinavian Timber Frame” bnb to be fulfilled. The timbers were officially dropped off onto Cottonwood Creek, through almost no effort of our own. GAME ON!!
Back in the 1700’s and 1800’s, in early America, the pioneers up north were immigrants from Europe and Scandinavia. They brought with them their “mortise and tenon” method of construction. They cut down the trees on their land with hand tools, since no electricity or chainsaws existed. And using hand tools they shaped each tree into these squared off beams. They then chiseled “mortise” pockets into them for their hand-shaped “tenon”-end to fit into. After all, nails weren’t long enough to fit through 2 of these timbers. So, one beam would literally fit into another, and then the pioneers hand-whittled oak pegs and drove them through the two beams to hold them together.
Today, those barns are 150-250 years old, and are falling down. The Amish and Mennonites know the local farmers and carefully dismantle the barns and the antique wood is being repurposed in modern houses as visible rafters, headers, furniture, and much more. We used some of the beams to erect our Scandinavian, instead of 2×4’s.
I’ve taken close-up pictures of the hand-work done on these beams by people who chopped down the trees, squared them off with hand-tools, and created each notch and ax mark to build their barn. The craftsmanship amazes us. Even the round dowels were handmade. Steve loves the wood…
To honor the time it took to create these beams, Steve carried on their intended use. He built the whole structure using only mortise and tenon method…0 nails.
The overall aesthetic and decor of our Scandinavian is modeled 100% after the early 1800’s homes from Sweden and Norway, honoring my family’s heritage. The site is on our same 11-acres as the McGuire House. Construction pictures and videos can be seen on our Instagram: @OurCottonwoodCreek.
Here’s Steve on the spot where the Scandinavian timber frame God inspired us to build will be…
The next post will show the finished Scandinavian!