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Farmhouse is supposed to be shiplap and white, right? Everything black and white, neat and tidy.

The past several years we've spent living in an old farmhouse have taught me that actually, when something is 120+ years old, no lines are straight, no white is white, and if the shiplap is exposed, then you have no insulation... which doesn't work for winters in Illinois.

I sat in our backyard this morning, and don't get me wrong... I've been giving thanks for the rain. Last week, it hurt to walk barefoot on the grass because it was so dry; we all know the moisture is an answer to prayer. But everything was drippy, and only the weeds of the garden were visible, and the pool water was green, and the dog's kennel was muddy, and the chickens were fighting as usual, and I wondered to myself if this was really farmhouse living.

It is! Weeds, and mud, and maintenance are just as much a part of farmhouse living as the white and shiplap. In fact, they are more a part of living than white and shiplap, because we have a lot more mud and a lot more weeds than white or shiplap at our house. Farmhouse living as it has been for me has involved very little quick progress, quick fixes, or quick transformation. Rather, it has been about constantly changing and growing and modifying and using and re-using and creating and re-creating and shifting and cleaning and cleaning again.

The puppy needed a kennel last summer, so we relocated an old fence that to build it, and when the puppy outgrew that fence height we grabbed some chicken wire and staked it on top to make the kennel taller. That's how it is with farmhouses - you change, adjust, and keep on using what you have and re-using what you have until it blows away in the fierce valley wind. At least here, that's how it works.

There are times when I wonder if instead we should have pursued a different type of living - a quiet, simple life in a brick ranch or a cottage in town or an estate of some sort (obviously a very dilapidated one, to make clear that our budget is always smaller than our dreams). In our airbnb world, I recently hopped on to check out our competition in the Peoria area and wondered if I should have made our airbnb more luxurious, or more modern, or more trendy...

But the truth is, really, I usually just start with what I have and build from that. I adjust and move things from house to house as needed, re-creating from what I already own to make something new. So our house, and our airbnb pursuits, are just like what our yard is... a work in progress.

Maintenance and movement is just what farmhouse living is... and it's just what Christian living is too. The constant learning, and growing, and adjusting, and changing is not comfortable... but it is building something. Dwelling with God is going to look like constantly being in remodeling mode. Neither of us are just sitting on a couch, drinking tea and enjoying the space. There are times of rest, certainly. But the overall trajectory of dwelling with God I think actually does feel a lot more like a farmhouse reno than a mansion with maids.

So I guess we'll stick with farmhouse living for now, and save the mansions for the life to come.

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Hi, I'm Hannah.

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