For more than a decade my husband and I have known that we were called to create a retreat center where people can gather for classes, fellowship, and short stays with like-minded others. We searched off and on for years trying to find the perfect property. We spent weekends with our realtor, Bernice Burns, visiting acreage with a vision to build a structure where we could live privately and host public spiritual events. Nothing we saw “called” to us, so we kept looking.
We put off our search when my husband began having heart problems that led to having surgery. While recovering from surgery, he decided to look online for property, not expecting that anything would be available. Surprisingly, he found a 5-bedroom home on almost six acres close enough to Nashville that he could continue to drive back and forth to work. Houses in our area sell quickly and do not stay on the market long. So, with my husband one week post surgery and walking slowly and with some pain, we went to view the place.
At first it looked great, but upon further examination we saw a lot of work that would have to be done. So much work that we almost decided to pass on the house. But there was this calling we both felt. The nature spirits were excited to see us and I felt their presence the first time I set foot on the property. I knew this was the place to expand our ministry. We put a contract on the house that same day. After some countering and tweaking, the sellers accepted our offer.
Miracles abounded throughout this process. My husband was healing well but still needed a lot of bed rest. Within an hour of putting our house on the market we started having multiple requests to see our home. So many requests came in that we decided to go to a hotel while our house was receiving multiple offers above asking price. The first contract came in five hours after the MLS listing went live. This kept our faith up as we faced challenges throughout this stressful process.
Once the home inspection report came back on the house we were buying, we realized we were getting a real “fixer-upper” and there would be a lot more work than we originally anticipated–work that my husband could not do until he was fully recovered from surgery. But, another miracle occurred. Our house sold for 8 percent more than we were asking. We would be able to hire contractors to do the hardest of the manual labor for us. And, the “bidding war” on our house resulted in our accepting a cash offer with no contingencies–the buyers would even allow us to stay in our current home for up to two weeks after closing. This would allow us time to fix up the retreat house.
Our dream to start a retreat center became a reality on August 19, 2016 when we closed the real estate deal. We started the renovation the same day.
Two weeks later we moved in but there was a lot of work left to be done. It was like living in a construction job site! The floors were yet to receive new laminate flooring, so we walked on bare plywood. The window that took three weeks on special order had not arrived so we temporarily tacked up the old broken window to keep the air conditioning in the house and not the backyard. The roof had been repaired but the vinyl siding was yet to be installed because the window had to go in first. Fortunately, our new neighbor who befriended us the day we started working on the house was a retired siding installer. Did I mention there were miracles abounding? The repairs continue (there’s a plumber working on the kitchen sink as I type this) but we see the rainbow light at the end of the tunnel now.
Trusting Your Higher Guidance
Knowing how much work there was to be done and yet having to wait for our closing date before we could get started make it difficult to rest. I mentally arranged furniture and chose paint colors while I was unable to sleep at night!
There were so many moving parts and they needed to happen in a certain order. I spent hours during the day creating a work flow plan for the entire project. The laminate needed to be installed before the carpet; the walls and ceilings had to be washed by hand to get off as much nicotine as possible. (The former owners had smoked in the house for 18 years.) Then, the painters could come in and work at the retreat house while we packed boxes at the former house. Furniture would need to be purchased for the bedrooms where our guests would sleep but the deliveries did not need to happen until after the carpet was in.
When we found a structural damage that had to have professionals brought in, my project plan had to take a detour. Stress levels were high and we were doing our best to keep our faith and trust that this was all in divine order. The house itself had been neglected and the family that lived there before us had a lot of grief to deal with. Paint brush or cleaning cloth in hand, my body hurt all over as I pushed ten or more hours a day in hard physical labor. My mom drove five hours and stayed two weeks to work right alongside us. She kept me encouraged with her positive attitude. My kids helped out a lot too. Such a blessing to have loving family bonds like this.
I sang in light language with hammer in hand as I climbed a ladder to hang pictures, or while I unloaded boxes, or washed cabinets, or applied Drylok to the garage walls after spending hours washing away the mildew. I would take my drum to the little cottage in the backyard during my work breaks. That cottage has become the chapel and gathering room for spiritual classes. As I sang and drummed, I focused on healing the house and bringing it into alignment with love and light. Every day we saw positive changes that kept our hope up.
There were many obstacles along the way. Trusting our divine guidance was absolutely necessary as we saw the equity from the sale of our former house going into the new house in big chunks. All the appliances in the kitchen had to be replaced. The HVAC unit upstairs had to be repaired. The HVAC downstairs has to be replaced but thanks to a friend in the business, we were able to prop it up for another season. We wanted to reuse as many of the window blinds as possible to cut costs and not put things into the landfill. I spent days washing vinyl blinds in a 44-gallon trash can that we had purchased.
It was hard not to worry about our finances and how we would afford to maintain a 2,800 square-foot home. So many things kept going “wrong” and the big picture was distorted with obstacles. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop as I made my requests known to heaven. “We are barefooted,” I heard my guides say. “We don’t throw shoes at people!” LOL! I was learning how to flow with change and stay in peace even when things were difficult.
Among the chaos, miracles continued to happen. Everything we had dreamed of materialized right before our eyes. Within a six-week period, which included me being in Denver for a speaking engagement for five days, we transformed the run-down place and had it ready for our first spiritual gathering at the end of September. The house was filled with the joy! The laughter of friends, the smell of home-cooked meals, sitting by the bonfire at night, dancing in the chapel, and holding a 4-hour light language workshop reminded me of how I had worried for no reason. Trusting your guidance may not be easy, but it is surely worth it.