There is this precious cottage down the street from my house. It’s abandoned. It’s been neglected. It’s stripped of all it’s valuable accents. We have always enjoyed it’s simple beauty.


Someone broke the glass door and went in. So, we went in because…well, we have been dying of curiosity.


The curved stairs with no railing.


The main hall with a vaulted ceiling.


The kitchen was gone.



The upstairs had these adorable doors and angles.


The roof is leaky, obviously.


But, oh, what a sweet gem. It will never be restored because it’s not historical. It’s not “Civil War” worthy.


So the owners took all the good stuff, and sold the beautiful shell.

This time of year, the huge gingko tree out front is blazing yellow. It’s such a fairy tale, but in reality, it’s a humble subject of a Buzzfeed article about “amazing abandoned places in Tennessee”. If that would ever exist.

I love that we live next to a battlefield. All the preserved wildness is haunting and never disappoints. It’s a refuge after days of hard work and no energy to drive, to walk through the canopy of trees to this place of wonder that never gets old. We play hide and seek and always find something interesting and lovely. It will be hard when the Feds actually decide to tear it down because it’s on a battlefield. History has levels of importance, but for now, this little place is all wonder.


If a Tree Falls in the Woods…

IMG_9451The kids and I went to the pool after Vacation Bible School one day. We got thundered out, and came down the driveway. There was a tree on our house. The kids all declared different things, “Mom! A Tree” “Mama? How do we get in the house?” ” What do we do?!”

And all I said was, “Well, we are not driving down the driveway!”




There was a tree on our house. The first thing we did was park at the top of the hill and walk down to the house, observing the wreckage all the way down. The kids were troubled, but I don’t think they were scared. I wasn’t scared. I walked into the house and breathed a sigh of sweet relief when I saw the tree had not pierced the ceiling of the house. But when Josiah saw that his window had a massive branch lodged in it, he started to tear up. Poor guy.

IMG_9454I told everyone to change out of their swimsuits, and I paced around wondering what to do first. Joel was out of town, in Canada. My parents (who are currently living in our cottage) were in the UK. It was just me. I was the only grown up in charge. Lord, help me. So I called my friend, Missy, who had a tree fall on her house a few years back. She said to call my insurance company, take a lot of pictures, and have the insurance company get us a really nice hotel room. I told the kids they could watch a movie, and I was on the phone for a while. Thankfully, we have very good electrical folks at EPB, and they came and fixed the downed power lines in less than an hour. I didn’t have to worry about everything in my parents fridge spoiling. I was watching them pull huge trucks down my driveway, and figure out where to put the cherry picker. I saw them get a chainsaw out all while trying to talk to the insurance guy and Joel. Joel was stunned, and apologetic for not being there*. When asked how big the tree was, having the EPB guys close by turned out to be useful, “At least 50ft tall, Ma’am”. I got off the phone just in time to have the friendly EPB guy tell me that I will not lose power at all, or wi-fi for that matter. I just about crumpled with joy. When the electrical lines to the cottage were repaired, they went to work on the wi-fi to the cottage. “You know it’s gonna start pouring in a minute” the electrical EPB worker said. “That’s OK,” the wi-fi guy said,”I brought my umbrella!” and he popped open an umbrella and stuck it in the holder on the side of the cherry picker. Great guys, yeah EPB! The insurance company told me they could find me a roofer to cover the area damaged by the tree, but I planned to call my connections first. I tried one person and got voicemail, then I called Ty. I didn’t expect him to answer, but he did,”Ty!” I was so relieved to hear a voice of a trusted friend! I almost started balling on the phone. Ty told me who he knew and trusted, and instead of giving me a bunch of numbers to call, he called them himself. Ty Willison, selfless and helpful. So thankful for trusted friends!



The guys from Live Right Construction were on the job. Caleb tarped the whole roof area. He took pictures of the damaged roof and got as much off the roof as he could without a chainsaw. It didn’t downpour anymore after the tree fell, but it sure felt good to have everything covered up well. We were dry, connected, and had plans for the rest of the week. The kids had VBS all week long, and that gave me three mornings to deal with the tree stuff.


Because my parents were out of the country, they did not have to got through the added stress of their power being out. Also, we sent Josiah up to sleep in their cottage after Joel got back from Toronto. He loved it. IMG_9482The guys came the next day and moved through that fallen tree with the strange beauty of chainsaw gymnastics. I took the kids to the pool again, and when we came home the kids said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was another tree on our house?” No, it would not be funny. I did have to keep the guy with the chainsaw from taking all my potential firewood.

And now, about a month later, we finally have a new window for Josiah’s room. A very new and shiny (expensive) window. We will replace gutters, and do some paint still. But I’m very thankful for how smoothly this went. God took good care of us, from start to middle and He will to the finish.

*oh, and the reason Joel felt especially bad for calling me during the tree fiasco was that he was staying in one of the nicest hotels in Toronto. He was eating at fabulous restaurants, and going to see amazing views of the city from the top of the CN center. He was watching the Yankees play the Blue Jays from his hotel bar window. Yeah, he felt really bad. I’m still waiting to make up for that.






Living in the woods has had some amazing effects me. I can’t begin to reflect on them all. Watching the organic shapes out my bedroom window every morning. Seeing the light dance between swaying branches. The colors, they are intoxicating. The smells of fireplaces being used, the crunch of leaves under my feet, the signs that life is still active when I turn over our rotting pumpkins. It’s poetry, every day. My heart feels still as I observe the bigness of what is around me. I have a tinge of fear as a rainstorm blows the tree tops a little farther, left to right. But the colors. My yard is blanketed with red maple leaves. I stare out into the National Forest and I see yellow. I long desperately for the time and emotional energy to paint the amazing autumn that surrounds me. I sigh when another week goes by where I haven’t had anyone over to sit and marvel at the beauty with me and feel that satisfying crunch of leaves. The year will be over and the winter will be dark. I will cure my cabin fever by setting many pieces of wood on fire. Smelling the smoke in my clothes and watching the glow die out right before bed. I have a pioneer bubbling inside of me, I’m not quite so brave. But there will be more moments and things to accomplish. The first thing I want is an axe. Then some bookshelves. Joel will go away on business and I will paint walls. The season is rich. I’m watching the changes and mourning the end of the colors. Winter will usher in other delights, and I am excited to see what our mountain home has in store.

The High Place

Little Archer, originally uploaded by katiek2.

Our journey brought us here. To this patch of woodsy heaven that we have had our hearts set on for months. We couldn’t think of anywhere else that would take us out of such a great neighborhood like Jefferson Heights. We have fallen completely in love with the places that surround us. The rocks and trees made to glow in the sun. The chipmunks scampering around the rocks and into holes. The moths, spiders, ants and birds. It is all too much to describe. And it is a sanctuary, a place where there is peace, and stillness. It is a place where I feel chapters of our lives as a family will be written.
Joel has had a word from the Lord enter his life through a dream. He had a funny sequence of events that led him to the phrase “a good year”. And as I gasped for breath under the weight of the steps it took us to get here. Sometimes it was weeping that I could not control. I felt so silly, everything was laid out in front of me, I just had to keep walking forward. “It’s going to be a Good Year.” Joel would say,” I really think we need to hold onto that.”
We have been here for almost two weeks. We have boxes everywhere and almost every wall is beige (yuck). But every night, Joel and I will sit on the porch outside of our bedroom and listen to the rustling, and screeches of nocturnal animals. We will let moths rest on our knees as we talk about the next steps in our adventure. We laugh about our cars that rattle and rust, but we have TWO HOUSES! What the what??? It’s comical really. We talk about friends we want to invite, and the beauty of the yard work accomplished. I have mosquito bites in the strangest places. Everyone but me has a small spot of poison ivy somewhere on their body. No matter, this is the best. It is beauty, peace, rest and joy! I can’t communicate how good of a gift this home is. Our home in Jefferson Heights was a miracle, and so is this.
I am intoxicated by the sun through the trees, I’m afraid to commit my time to anything that will take me far from it’s siren song. I also am stretching my muscles and limbs to be a hostess again. It’s a discipline that I haven’t nurtured in a while. The Lord will need to give me grace as I host any number of friends and their children. I love them all, and what a gift I want to share with them.
So, I am feeling like every day is a vacation. I hope that the work that this home will bring us, will be so extraordinary and that I will grow the way God has intended.

Home that makes sense

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My friend, Marialice, asked if we would like to house/animal sit for them. I was hoping we wouldn’t need another place to stay, that we would close on our mountain home before the end of May, but that didn’t happen. We love my parents, and we love their home, but this little adventure seemed worth it. It really was.

We spent 5 night there. A home full of comforts and coziness. Porches, pets, food and sunshine. We soaked it up. It was like a stay-cation. Our friends, the Perkins, were in town from Boise and we were able to spend some time with them. Swimming and eating and watching the kids play. We talked about pain and sorrow and laughed at the oddities that our life had handed us. But most of all, we enjoyed being together. Sometimes that is just enough.

The end of May lends itself to some of the most majestic weather. To be done with school and to sleep in, to sit and relax on the porch or in a sun soaked room, the hours didn’t seem to matter.

The pup named, Cholita, was the only big responsibility we had when we were house sitting. I have never had a dog, and I probably would really really have to be talked into it, but there is something about the unconditional love from a pooch, it’s sweet. Cho wanted to love us all the time. She followed me around the house. Sometimes I really wanted to be alone, the half bath was my friend.  This sweet doggie made the kids so happy. She would run, bark, chew, lick, sniff. The kids thought she was the most fascinating thing. I liked having something fill the hours that my anxiety was taking over. I could take Cho for a walk and I was not being selfish, but I still could retreat and benefit from that. Animals really are a blessing from the Lord.

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So as the day approached that we would close on our mountain home, it was a welcomed relief that we could come back to the Hatch’s house and pet the kitty, Laura, chase Cholita around the living room, crawl into bed and have a fresh cuppa coffee and be ready to pack and move all over again.