As promised, I must tell you about our new life.
I've written previously about the ending of our homeschool life (my 6-20-18 post). As our 27 years of family education (Ancora Impara Family School) being my main vocation, avocation, hobby, project, ministry, work, was ending, many people asked me: what's next? To which I replied: ummmm - I have no idea!!
Ancora Impara means always learning - it had been our mantra for many years - always is ALWAYS! but what would it look like now?
I considered driving Uber (my family was not too supportive of that), working at a coffee shop (except for the fact that I don't speak coffee-lingo), working at Target (I could wear red every day!). Beyond those ideas, I had no idea. No vision for what was next.
Randy put this crucial question to me: what would be life-giving for you for our next chapter? He exhorted me to ponder that. hmmmm.
We knew we wanted to move back to the Twin Cities and began looking for an old house in a favorite St. Paul neighborhood. We didn't know what we were looking for except that we wanted another old home and we knew we didn't have another home restoration in us.
The house-hunt was my task (since Randy still had a real job!). As I researched houses and made house-hunting appointments, I mulled over Randy's question. I knew I didn't want to teach anymore but I wanted/needed to do something beyond homekeeping. My job-search was put aside for the sake of the house-hunt. Thanks to a very patient realtor, we saw almost every old St. Paul house on the market - including some that didn't meet the criteria of our wants. Once, I snuck an interesting, large historic home onto our list, mainly for the sake of our curiosity. I was sure our realtor would say she wasn't going to show us that one because we weren't looking for a large house - or a historic house - or something on the West Side - and for sure not a business! But - she let us see it: a large historic home, on the West Side of St. Paul, that was being run as a B&B. And we both got bit by that house - Randy especially. The craftsman in him resonated so deeply with the house we'd nicknamed George (the name of its street).
We were taken in by the fact that the original design and features were largely intact; stunning in craftsmanship, meticulously restored and tastefully modernized where needed. We were intrigued by the stories of the first owners and the architect/designer. We were impressed by George's care and upkeep by previous owners - especially by the impressive restoration work of the current owner.
But - remember: we were NOT LOOKING for a large home or a historic home or a West Side home or a business!! So after seeing George several times, we made a rational decision to put an offer on a more sensible house and put George behind us. That offer was accepted - we moved forward with the move - packing up, labeling each box for the appropriate room in the Sensible House. People who knew us sensed our hearts were not in it but alas - it was sensible. And I pushed my job-hunting plans aside until we were settled in St. Paul.
Movers came for the hundreds of boxes - they all went into storage while we moved into a little apartment until the Sensible House closing would happen in September. Then we were blind-sided. Providentially, the day after we moved out of our house into our temporary apartment, some dishonesty about the Sensible House was revealed through a somewhat bizarre series of events, which I won't detail here. We were crushed. We knew we couldn't buy that house. Thankfully, we were able to walk away from the purchase agreement. But now what?? There were no other houses on the market of interest. We had 3-4 months in our temporary, tiny apartment. Should we look at other neighborhoods? Newer houses? A condo? Our realtor and I scrambled to find any houses we hadn't seen, revisit houses that we had declined, seek out other areas we should consider. There really weren't many options to look at. Time was ticking.
Neither of us mentioned George at all. Not once - until one of my sisters said: "why aren't you looking at that house on George Street again - I thought Randy grieved for two months after you decided against it?" That was really the impetus of us re-opening the door to George - both figuratively and literally.
As we weighed the idea of living in a business - having strangers staying in our home all the time - something sparked in me. From the beginning, Randy was seeing it as a very appealing thing - as a good fit for us - but he was deferring to me since a lot of it would fall on me (until he "retires" - in perhaps eight years). We've always had a pretty open home, we've usually had people living with us, we've liked trying to have our home provide a welcoming place for people beyond our family. And pretty surprisingly - not with any voice from heaven or inspirational dream or anything like that - I felt a stirring to create a place of welcome - of rest and comfort - on George Street on the West Side of St. Paul, in a home that has held people since 1885. And the vision of adding our family's history to that of those who had lived there for 134 years grew in both of us.
It seemed life-giving: to George, to us, to our family, and beyond.
On September 13th, we closed on George, got the keys, and opened the doors. The first thing we did was to hang a pewter plaque by the side door. I'd bought it at a thrift store long before we'd even started house hunting.
"Bidden or not bidden, God is present."
And then we prayed for George and our life there - and all we had to learn. Because, OF COURSE, God is bidden to abide over, under, around, and among us - and all who join us at George.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
~ Psalm 90:17
And, unlike the original owners, we're on Facebook and Instagram: @samueldearinghouse