November 19, 2014

The Front Porch That Took 17 Years to Build (Part 1)

Nov3

The Porch That Took 17 Years to Build - an inspiring story for anyone who wants their dream home

Our son rolled his eyes at me, “Mom, you live like we are still unemployed.  Why don’t you just buy that furniture?  We finally have the money and I know you want it.”

I turned to him and gathered all the passion I could muster, “Son, You know I have a big goal! The bottom line is that we can’t have it all, even if everyone else tells us we can, we can’t.

So, get used to it because I am going to live like we did when we were unemployed and save and save until that dream becomes a reality. When that happens, I am going to laugh all the way to the bank as I withdraw my money and pay cash for that dream porch.”

He chuckled, “Yes, Mom. The elusive porch. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Honestly, his response wasn’t one of disrespect. His response was based on historical fact. That elusive porch he mentioned had become the inside joke of family and close friends. Two times, spanning ten years, we had saved up the cash to build our dream porch, only to have devastating financial circumstances fall upon us.

During those heart wrenching times, that porch fund fed us, clothed us, and saved our home twice. Since we had committed to paying cash for it, our porch fund became an extended life line to live off of when no new income generation occurred.

The saying states that “the third times a charm,” but honestly, once we had saved up this third time, I waited, and then waited some more. We made sure our emergency fund was completely in tact. I was not taking any more chances.

Before the first hole was dug, I repeatedly joked to my husband, “So the company is fine? Pay checks are getting paid? Your job is secure? Are you SURE??”

When friends drive down our long, gravel drive, I want them to know this is SO MUCH MORE than a story about a fabulous Before and After or a great outdoor living space addition. 

This is a story of community. A story of thrifting as a lifestyle.  It’s a story that begins with a difficult journey, a commitment to a long term vision, God’s faithfulness, and hopefully, a story that encourages you.

The first chapter in my story rejects the lie that everyone’s dream home occurs over night.  As we browse pinterest perfect houses online, please understand that for each one of those, there are thousands where the owners would be thrilled to pay the next mortgage. I’ve been there. I know the pain and exhaustion of that long road, but now I’ve finally caught a glimpse of turning that corner and celebrating the journey.

It took seventeen years, and this is literally our very first home renovation since we built this house. I’ve finally received the gift of building a “want,” not a “need,” and the wait, yes, this extremely delayed gratification, is so worth  it.

It’s OK to WANT, but for me, it was even better to WAIT! The lessons I learned, they’ve multiplied in the waiting.

I’m more convinced than ever that we make our own dream homes,  right where we live, no matter what our financial circumstances.

We have that choice.

Often, it’s a difficult one, but to be content in the moment is one of life’s greatest gifts.

Choose contentment. It wins every time. With or without the porch, I’ve been living in our dream home all along, tacky floors, leaking showers and all. Some days, I just forgot that.

I shared the first part of our porch story nearly four years ago in a post entitled, Setting Financial Goals: For What Dream Are You Saving?

It begins like this, “When we built our house thirteen years ago, we purposely designed a colonial style because our dream style for our home was to have a large wrap around front porch.  Not just a typical decorative front porch, but more of a veranda.

A porch that screams, “Welcome.” A porch where memories are made.

A place where family and friends could gather and share life together. An environment where stress and worries would melt away over shared conversation.

I envisioned birthdays being celebrated, wedding rehearsal dinners taking place, and secrets confided over coffee.

After five years, we were ready to begin building.   We had set a financial goals and for years, we saved every nickel and dime to put into our “front porch fund.”  Personally convicted, we felt it was important to save up the full amount before beginning to build rather than adding onto our mortgage.

Passing by all my little “wants,”, I didn’t spend money on other non-essentials because I had a completely focused financial goal for which I was striving – a wrap around veranda that would seat sixty comfortably. I even had a picture of it taped to the side of our fridge for two years to keep me focused.

And then it all fell apart.

You’ll have to click over and read about the first time we lived off our porch fund and the irony is that when I wrote that post, we had just rebuilt that fund, never thinking we’d have to dip into it, let alone, go through it all, again. My husband’s employer had just been sold and we were entering into what would be a year long period of unemployment, but we made it, again.

And now I’m finally here, four years later (or really 17 years from start to finish), sitting on that elusive front porch. So many twists and turns occurred along the way, and even that dream porch doesn’t look quite like what it did 17 years ago, but I can’t wait to share the final pictures with you in PART 2 of my porch story.

Do you have a “Dream Porch” for which you are saving?

You can DO IT!! I have faith in you.

As our story shows, it doesn’t happen over night, and most often, the is pain along the journey, but stick with it, it’s SO WORTH IT!!

Can you share that dream you are saving for?

I’d love to dream along with you and be your #1 cheerleader.

PART TWO of our Front Porch (the AFTER) is up! Come see the process that we went through in building our porch.

If you’ve spent any time around my blog, you know that I am a huge believer in beautiful living on a budget and one of my most recommended resources is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

I’m privileged to partner with Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) Program over the next few months.

Our porch would not be a reality without the basic principles that we instilled early on, principles that Endorsed Local Providers encourage.  To discover how you can get some great help on a saving plan, click over to the Dave Ramsey site.

There’s no time like the present to start thinking about your “dream porch,” and hopefully, it won’t take you 17 years to make it a reality!


Comments

  1. Jen, thank you so much for sharing this story today. It’s just what I needed to hear…today…when our house won’t sell, and I had to call the plumber AGAIN, and my husband said, “Maybe you guys should just spend the night somewhere else if the toilet still won’t flush.” And I said to him, “It’s okay. I’ll call the plumber. And we won’t always live here. One day we’ll live somewhere different, and it will be better.”

    *sigh* One day. Until then, I’m fighting to be content here…even on days when the toilet won’t flush…

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    Jen Reply:

    @Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect, Oh friend – I’ve been there, I know that. In fact, we’ve had a leaking shower for years, but in order to fix it, the walls, tile etc needs to come down AND NO ONE WILL EVER EVEN see that shower. So I built the porch instead and STILL have the leaky shower. :)

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  2. Jaime Walsh says:

    I’m going to send this to my husband. Starting 2014 we will be starting a building fund for him. It feels like he’ll never get the garage of his dreams but it *WILL* happen! Congrats on your new porch!

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  3. Thank you Mrs Jen; very encouraging for me (for us it’s our deck, would LOVE a porch; our “Cape Cod” house is a great blessing; it was very inexpensive, clearly the Lord’s provision for us, is big enough to hold your bunch plus more (I have 2 girls, almost 4 and 6 right now). We are just too close to a busy road for a front porch, but getting our deck safe for the girls and any future children God might choose to give us one day would be a blessing (or to be able to eat as a family or with friends/fellowship outdoors). Thanks for encouraging so many ladies through your obedience in following the Lord’s direction!

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  4. I know you are loving that porch on these amazing fall evenings!

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  5. Great Post! We live in a 100 Year old farmhouse. This post inspires me :)

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  6. This reminds me of a conversation my husband and I had last week. You see, we went from two incomes to one – which allowed me to follow my dream of being a SAHM. It’s been tough but we’ve managed to get by. We try to pay cash for everything but I can’t say that we do 100% of the time. Mostly, we’ve learned to prioritize and do without. We’ve lived this way for nearly two years and we have the opportunity to buy the business my husband has worked at nearly 25 years. It’s a 100+ year old business and very successful. We’re trying not to count our chickens before they hatch, but we do dream of a bit more financial flexibility when the business is finally ours. Still, our conversation was centered around “after all these years of paying cash, buying used, saving every extra penny, I can’t see us just buying all new or extravagant purchases.” Living below your means is a commitment and a mindset! Way to go on saving for your porch!

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  7. Oh. My. Goodness. Just today I was daydreaming about our house and how much I really want to put a little front porch on the front. It would make the house look nicer, but really the biggest factor is that it would help immensely with wind/water issues with our front door. And it set me off on a little rabbit trail of needs vs. wants vs. contentment. Big medical bills, a new roof, a replacement vehicle, non-leaking faucets…furniture, new front door, flooring, fencing, vacation…

    We’ve paid off our debt this year and are working on building our emergency fund, but it is hard. Every time we get close to where it needs to be some big essential expense happens and we’re back to square one. I really needed to hear from someone who stuck with it and is enjoying the satisfaction of delayed gratification. However, I’m kinda getting freaked out. Right when I was pining for new flooring, you wrote a post about your floors. Right when I was pining for a new porch, you wrote a post about a porch. Weird…

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    Jen Reply:

    HAHAH – oh my!! that is TOO Funny! Well maybe I’ve been put before you to encourage you that your time WILL COME (and hopefully, not in 17 years.) The interesting thing is that when we were unemployed, I went on a rampage trying to find small ways to help pay for our groceries, extra expenses, but now that my husband is employed again, that extra income went towards building up our emergency fund. That’s done, so now it’s time for a few “wants” or actually, our floor NEEDS to done. haha

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  8. Amen! This is a perfect post. And I love the porch!

    I’ve been wanting to swap the kitchen and living room. Money being the number one problem of course. We are reusing the cabinets and will only have to replace the appliances, some counter and flooring. Oh and hubby has been putting money aside for a Jeep also.
    This was to be the year. Yea and Then. So hubby is having shoulder surgery and will be out of work over 2-months and through Christmas. That saved money will keep us going but the kitchen/LR swap is once again put off. I keep from sighing by realizing that God has perfect timing. What if we’d hadn’t saved for the swap and the jeep. What if? I’d say we might have been in a little trouble or a lot. And once he’s well we’ll start over and see where that takes us.
    I hope to the swap and hubby’s jeep but it might once again save us from the unseen.

    Jake’s a Girl

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  9. I just finished reading Dave’s Total Money Makeover book. Good for you!!!!

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  10. God really does work in mysterious ways! He new of the struggles you would have, so he whispered to your heart to save up money for this dream. Now you get to enjoy some of the blessings of your endurance. We hope to build up our savings again soon. My husband has been going back to school, and I’ve been a SAHM. It’s hard living on so little!

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  11. Jen, I’m so very happy for you (and your family). Not just for the porch but for the example that you’ve given your children! what a legacy.

    My husband was unemployed (or under employed – working 3 part time jobs) for 4 years. Then he got a full time job in his field and also continued to live below our means so we could beef up our savings again. It was a good thing because after 11 1/2 months the company closed and we back to some uncertain financial times. BUT, God is so good, and we’re so glad that we don’t have a lot of wants and all of our needs are taken care of. My children also see the importance of having an emergency fund much clearer than most of their peers do.

    Thanks for the reminder that this is just a season. Have some tea on that porch for me.

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    Jen Reply:

    oh friend – you know you are welcome anytime. I would SO much rather do that with you in real life. :)

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  12. Great story – thank you for sharing! Our home is in a 21 year remodeling project and it is discouraging. Trying, too, to not go in debt for it! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  13. Jen, I’m so thankful to have spent that day on your front porch! I can’t imagine your home without it.

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    Jen Reply:

    You guys were my very first guests. It hadn’t even passed inspection yet. :)

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  14. I can’t tell you how much this post meant to me. What a example you have set, for me and others.
    Thank you so very much.

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    Jen Reply:

    You are so welcome. :)

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  15. What a wonderful message, Jen! We also have four kids and are on one steady fireman’s income. We live frugally, but sometimes, it’s so hard! I needed to read this today! It reminded me of our ultimate goal that we are working towards and to not give up despite the financial hardships that inevitably surface. BTW…. I love Dave Ramsey! I have his books and refer to them frequently! Thanks for sharing your personal story! Enjoy your beautiful porch!

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  16. Jen, thank you so much for sharing this faith story! Your home is lovely and I’m sure your porch is just as lovely, but what I love most is your faith and positive attitude no matter what you go through in life! And what a testimony to God’s faithfulness to not only give you your heart’s desire, but also to prompt you to save the money so you would be ready able to make it through the unexpected twists and turns of life.

    You can’ imagine how much this post encourages me because I’ve been waiting on my dream home for several decades now. It’s hard to see so many others, who are much younger and really didn’t have to believe at all, getting theirs so easily. Kind of makes me stop and think now and then, “What’s wrong with me? Is my faith too small?” I needed to read this testimony today! Good things do come to those who wait–faithfully and cheerfully!

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  17. Tonya Case says:

    Beautiful story. THANKS!

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  18. thank you for your honesty and inspiration! and, I love this: to be content in the moment is one of life’s greatest gifts.

    xoxo

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  19. This is SO beautiful and SO inspiring! My dream is to have a house with a wrap-around porch but for now we’re just very happy where we are. :) HUGE congratulations to you on saving, sacrificing, and the blessings that come from that – being able to sit on that porch and know that it’s a gift from God, a provision – as it was in other ways throughout the years!

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  20. What a cool story! It’s so inspiring to hear of others living below their means.
    Sometimes I almost feel like I stick out like a sore thumb because we have to say no all the time. But thank God in his love and mercy we have no outstanding debt, money to pay our bills and an emergency fund. Even though it can be hard to say no it’s such a great feeling to be on top of our finances.
    I hope to be back to visit often!
    Blessings.

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  21. I loved reading this whole post. What a great lesson that I’m still working on. I need to go back and read all about the journey you’ve been on. Thanks for sharing your story and being an inspiration to so many!! Congrats on the porch!

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  22. My husband’s and my dream is to own a small vacation home. Yes, it would be fun to take the family to and enjoy some seclusion together, but our greatest desire is to be able to offer free stays there to pastors, missionaries, and others needing a place to rest and rejuvenate. Too many times we’ve seen burn-out that ruins lives.

    We live on a tight budget and can’t seem to sincerely add to our savings for this goal. However, all of our needs have graciously been met by our Heavenly Father, and we are grateful. We look forward to the day when He will graciously provide for our “dream” of helping others!

    So happy for your porch. Thank you for telling us the struggles you endured to get to this point. Rejoicing with you, Darla

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  23. Great story! So excited you finally got your porch. How fantastic and now you can appreciate it all the more!

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  24. Loved reading this post — from your heart and based on experience. Virtual hugs! Enjoy that beautiful porch.

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  25. Feeling this one. In our over-pinterested and over-instagrammed and over-blogged world of fake perfect homes, or of people who truly don’t live our reality, it’s easy to struggle with discontentment and envy. It’s not the reality of the majority of people, and we need more posts like this. Posts that don’t just say, make your home the home of your dreams – you can do it! But rather, it can happen one day, but it may take years, and it may seem impossible for a long time first.

    My current dreams? A bigger kitchen – at 8X9, and with 8 people living here, it’s a leeetle bit squishy. Also, I dream of the porch, too.

    Thanks for a dash of reality…and hope. :)

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    Jen Reply:

    Oh yes, hope away. The reality is that there’s often a LONG wait, right, but dreaming with you for that bigger kitchen. :)

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  26. This is such an interesting post. It parallels our story in many ways. My blog is named “A Romantic Porch” because I’m waiting for the front porch to be restored to our to 109 year old home in our historic downtown. When we bought our home in 1991 from the mayor of our small town, his wife gave me a photo of how the home looked originally and she said she always wanted to put the porch back on and she was passing the photo on to me so I could hold onto the dream. They had lived here 35 or 40 years and I thought, “I will NEVER live here 40 years without the front porch.”….well let’s see….how long has it been since 1991? I am so thankful that we have a beautiful back porch that is open to our lovely back yard and carriage house. We entertain a lot and run our businesses from our home, so I am truly anxious for the front porch. We have lived through quite a story here and I have never told all of it on my blog…it’s hard for me to know how to share the painful details. However in one of my blog posts I did tell some of the story about the mayor’s wife giving me the photo.
    WoW! This post is quite long. Sorry!
    Thank you for your heartfelt sharing. I have read your blog for several years, but rarely leave a comment. Actually this might be the second one! ha
    Have a wonderful weekend, dear.
    Rachel

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    Jen Reply:

    Rachel – thank you SO, SO much for sharing and yes, our stories mirror each other. I completely understand not sharing it all because while I feel that I’m “what you see is what you get” on the blog, I haven’t gone into the harder details either, except kind of sharing it casually here. Just hearing you have a back porch and CARRIAGE house (love that) is amazing, but hold fast to that front porch dream. You just never know when it might happen. I would never have thought even two years ago I would be able to build it, but it’s finally here. Thanks for your words (and your comment was NOT too long.) You’ve read here…I am always too wordy. ;)

    Blessings!!

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  27. Also, I just wanted to say your porch is so beautiful and I can only imagine your inexplicable joy in having it now!
    So so happy for you!
    Enjoy!
    Rachel

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  28. Jen, thank you for sharing this story- a story of what God has done while you have waited. He has done work in your heart through this process and it is a BEAUTIFUL story!

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    Jen Reply:

    I miss you, sweet friend! :)

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  29. The porch is beautiful and your story inspirational. I have been saving up for a fireplace. It looked like 2013 was going to be the year…in February my son was sent to Afghanistan. The day he left we decided to use the “fireplace $” to fly the family to Savannah when he returned. Then my husband added to the dream…instead of meeting in savannah..we are meeting in Disney world! My son returned last week and we meet up this friday. This dream has warmed our hearts more than the fireplace could. My son spoke of the family reunion every time we chatted. Since I have been saving for so long…will be paying cash for everything…this is really a trip of a lifetime for this little family in Missouri. I think I will hang a family pic from the trip where the fireplace would have been.

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    Jen Reply:

    OH Peggy – what a wonderful, wonderful story. So thrilled for you to have that time with your son. Precious!

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  30. I adore the story of the fireplace fund………..The family reunion picture hanging in place of the fireplace sounds so nice. Thank you for sharing this front porch story. I makes me realize that many of us are struggling to save money and live frugal to be able to have something nice. I know all about this kind of fund, and then having to spend it on something like bare necessities. I felt like this is not fair. but you have made me realize by the store and so many others comments that many others have this happen so many times. I like the picture of all the people gathered to share your new porch.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] Building a Front Porch [...]

  2. […] As a mom of five blessings, Jen Schmidt has learned to balance and embrace both the beauty and bedlam of every day life and shares about that journey on her blog, aptly named, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Her practical, yet tangible, lifestyle ideas encourages others to open their eyes to a “living on less, but living Life to the full” mentality focusing on being intentional with your every day. You can find her on any given day dreaming about a cleanhouse, whipping up 10 Minute Dinners (and sharing them on that blog), thrift store hunting, spray painting anything in her way or inviting you to share a cup of coffee on her front porch that took 17 years to build. […]

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