Tales of a Tract Home: The House Hunt

I thought you might enjoy from time to time seeing the progress we're making on our little tract home. I know I enjoy peeks into other owners' home refreshing adventures so I thought I'd share some photos and the story behind our little home. We'll call these blog posts "Tales of a Tract Home," and they will appear here as we make progress on different areas of our home.

Let's start at the beginning . . . .

We bought out home six years ago a few weeks before our son Joseph passed away from cancer. We had been living with my Mom after moving back to our state after four years in Georgia, which was both difficult and a blessing. Hard because I'm a very independent sort and wanted to be out on my own. And a blessing because without her help both financially, emotionally, and physically we would not have been able to spend the hours at the hospital with our son during his cancer treatments. Desperately looking for a way to give Joseph a permanent place to call home, we took a few hours here and there during the spring months of 2007 to try and find a place.

It seems silly now that we wanted so much to find him a place when we were losing him to cancer, but as a parent you try so hard to give your kids everything they need. And I think we were clinging to the idea that if we gave him a home, we were giving him some rest. Little did we know then, that this home would become a healing place after his journey was over rather than a resting place for Joey.

We found this home one Saturday afternoon. It was a tract home in a cookie cutter neighborhood of builder-grade homes, but it stood out to me because of the light green siding and wide front porch. When we toured the home, we noticed it had great bones and laminate flooring in the major traffic areas which was a big sell for us. The interior was neutral, which meant all of our belongings would easily match and we could move in quickly. The home seller gave us a few minutes alone in the house, and Brett and I actually knelt right there in the entry way and prayed to know if this would be a good home for our little family. We felt a joyous peace and were happy to sign our financial lives away for the opportunity to create a safe haven for our family.

We closed in less than a month in an effort to move in more quickly.

After we closed on the house, Joey actually saw the home twice as I carried him up the stairs to his "would-be" bedroom so that I could let the Air Conditioning guys into the house. I realize now that I should never have transported him back and forth, but it's strange how you cling to normalcy in the face of such unimaginable horror. He could have cared less, but tried so hard to be happy for us. I wanted so much to give him is own special room, but he was just too sick to care.

The night Joey passed away we packed up enough items from my Mom's house to "camp" in our newly purchased home, and we spent the night privately mourning the loss of our son. It was just one evidence of the importance of having our own place so that we could adjust and accept our new living circumstances. We were so grateful to those who helped us move in while I spent time with my son at the hospital, which was to be some of his last weeks with us on earth.

They carefully placed our belongings in our home in such a way that we could simply slip away into the night and gather close as we said our good-byes in our heart to our beloved son. I can never thank our family and friends enough for helping us start our new circumstances in such a beautiful way. They were instrumental in giving us a much needed reprieve. Here is how they set up my home, much like I would have done had I been there to help:

During those first few weeks at our home without Joey, we tried to lose ourselves in the work of setting it up. But once we got to a "functioning" level, we simply didn't have anything left emotionally to devote to the house so it sat like this for quite a while. Joey's room, which was to be a quiet, cool place for him to rest instead became a haven where we would go to think about him and miss him. It was a sacred place to remember our beautiful boy. And we kept his room set up for him just as we had envisioned it for a very long time.

There were so many proofs that while our decision to purchase a home while our son was ill seemed crazy that it really was so right for us. We think about this constantly and know the Lord brought us to a place where we could feel safe, loved, and have some time to learn to accept that our little boy wasn't going to be with us any more. It's been a difficult journey but having this home has helped us through the grieving process.

We've continued working to create a home rather than a house for Katelyn and James who miss their brother terribly and who needed a constant in their lives after losing their brother. Beyond sharing the "before" and "after" photos, I'll try to share the reasons why we chose to surround ourselves with the things that we have as I feel that creating a home always comes from the heart.

This little tract home has many sweet tales to tell, and I hope you'll join us on our journey to make it OUR home.


  1. I love this idea and can't wait to hear more. I believe that God knows just what we need and when we need it most. Hugs

  2. I mimic Deneen's sentiments. Looking forward to reading and seeing through the rest of your home's journey. :)

  3. As i lay here in my bed of my rental house I feel I am with you and your family. My thoughts of buying our family home come flooding back to me. But due to my back and having to quit my job and the ecomony we los our home as many did. But I am so glad that our children had a home the hole time they were growing up. Two weeks before we moved out or youngest graduated High School and the following week our oldest daughter married in our backyard. I will have manny fond memories with our little home in the woods. I know you too will be blessed with many blessing in your new home. God bless you all, and welcome home.

  4. I am excited for this series! I love seeing home transformations & how the owner's make the house feel like "home." I'm currently in search of a house & your story hits home because I am putting this in God's hands.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Not that I truly understand, but I can see why you wanted/needed to have your home when you did. Thank you for sharing your stories about Joey. {{hugs}}

    I have a builder grade home that we have been fixing and making our own. We actually had it built in 2004. A few years after, we started updating. It is funny to think this is our form of entertainment.

    It will be fun to see your home's journey. I am a home junky. LOL I love hopping the Parade of Homes each year. We love going for drives and checking out and walking in different neighborhoods, looking at houses.

  6. I will look forward to the posts on your home so much. Helps me get to know you more. I have no idea what a 'Tract home' or a 'builders grade' home is because we don't have them over here. I think the sentence, "we have our own home", is the most undervalued sentence we may say. It gives us roots, a place in our community, a sense of belonging for our kids and a place that they are safe and know that no matter what, they can return to it. We are so very fortunate to be able to give that to our kids. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for it and for my husband for providing it for us.

    I also totally 'get it' about wanting to buy your home in the midst of Joey being sick.

    I can't believe how little James is in the picture! Cute as a button!

  7. My eye was drawn to the box in one of the photos that has "Crown Cork & Seal" printed on it. My husband worked for them here in Kansas for 14 years, until his death in 2001. I know little things must give you pause to smile and remember your son, things that nobody else would probably understand. That photo, with that box in it, made my whole morning just a little bit better.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing on your house. I look forward to the next installment. My sister passed at 17 (I was 21) to cancer as well. We also had moved homes while my sister was in the hospital for the last time. She never actually got to see our new place but it helped us to have all of her stuff packed until we had the emotional strength to go through it. Thank you for sharing your journey.


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