Lessons From A Beat Up Old House

Last spring, I met this house.


But it was not love at first sight.

When I met 402 Rusk, I was already in love with another house.  My imaginary house…

In the summer of 2008, Dave and I began discussing the possibility of one day building our first home.

Building our first home.


I know.  We were dreaming big.  But we figured why waste time and energy remodeling an older home when we could start from scratch and build exactly what we wanted?

So we began making a list of everything we wanted in a house: a unique 2-story layout, a deck, a front porch, a wood-burning stove, a big kitchen, a sunroom, a 2-car garage, a spacious laundry room, lots of big windows, energy efficient everything, a privacy fence, etc., etc.

Ahhhh, the list-making was so much fun!

So was sketching the floor plan and planning the design schemes!

But realizing that building our first home was waaaaaaay out of our budget and that we could not afford to build a home any time soon?  That was not fun.

So when Dave suggested we look at an one older home that was for sale, I balked.  “I doubt I will like it at all,” I decided.

It was rainy the day I met 402 Rusk.  Standing there on the wet, weedy lawn I nervously eyed the shabby front porch surrounded by overgrown juniper hedges.  This wasn’t looking good so far.

Then Dave and I walked through the gate.

The view from the side of the house was a lot better and I was able to peek into the kitchen window.

Sure, the kitchen was big…but I still wasn’t sold.

With a critical eye I noted the falling siding, the lack of gutters, the broken windows. 

In the back of my mind, though, I also noted the unique 2-story layout, the big windows, the wood-burning stove, the sunroom…

Then I turned the corner and saw the deck and the massive yard…and the possibilities!  Summer cookouts under the trees, fall dinners on the deck, a walk-through kitchen garden, space for fruit trees….

It wasn’t the brand-new home that I was expecting but there was definitely something special about this house.

And so it was in this exact spot one year ago that I stood gazing up at the shabby, torn roof thinking, “I’m in love…and I’m in trouble!”


It’s been an honor repairing and restoring our house and in the process, it’s been repairing and restoring me as well.

When I stood at the back corner of our house that day, I knew my fragile world of perfectionism would be rocked to the core.

I hate it when I’m right.

It has been a challenging process learning to let go of all the little things in life that don’t matter.  

And I am so grateful for the people in my life.  They are worth putting down my rake and my paint brush for.

(Even though I really want to keep painting and raking.)

But in the end, when 402 Rusk is all finished, I will want to celebrate the victory with the people in my life.

Not by myself with my paint brush and my rake.


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