Home Sweet Home

Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”

   Remember our year of financial discipline 3 years ago? God taught us SO much about ourselves.  He loved us just as we were, but He also loved us too much to let us stay that way.  This Discipline lead right up to Dale’s truth.  A breaking down of both of us, in preparation for the life changing event to come.

Dreams, hopes, wishes: all changed.  

We died to self a million times over that year and the year that followed.  And we are better for it.  Stronger.

  When I was  a little girl, I’d sit in restaurants with my dad and watch him sketch on a table, spread with thin, white, restaurant-quality paper napkins, his dreams and floor plans for a house for us, or an office for his work, complete with a checkered floor show room for his race cars. 

It was not unusual to see him pen in hand, sketching and describing what could be.

Bontrager familyDestiny just asked me if that strap on my shoulder in the photo, was a purse.  When I told her no, those were suspenders, she snorted and asked: “But WHY?”   THAT, my dear, is the Millon dollar question.  Oh 1980’s, how I loathe thee with your permed hair, foam shoulder pads and heart suspenders clipped to acid washed jean skirts.

But I degress……

    One time, on our family bike ride, we rode past an old Military base.  We hopped off our bikes, climbed flight after flight of stairs and explored an old abandoned Air tower. 

  5 stories tall and huge!  The top story was all glass, with a circle walk way around it.  For the next month, we talked and listened to him dream of turning it into our home.  It was awesome!!!  (Mom was scared.)  I’m telling you my dad is a DREAMER! 

  After a while, I got used to this dreaming and realized it was part of my dad’s entrepanuer spirit that makes him who he is. 

  And somewhere along the way, I adopted some of that dreaming as my own.  I now, as an adult, can look at a floor plan and visually walk through an entire house.  After years of looking at napkin floor plans and having him walk us through it in our heads, I can “see it”.  And I desperately wanted to build my own home! 

  I wanted to experience it for myself…..pick out my own tiles, carpet, paint, design spaces full of cabinets, lockers, closets, and places that promoted tidiness and order for OCD me.

  I dreamt of big windows, tall ceilings, large combined kitchen, dining and family room, a red brick fireplace and 6 bedrooms.  (One for each kid, plus a guest room for visiting family, of course!)  No stuffy unused “sitting rooms” of my past, rooms we weren’t allowed in as kids, just large open spaces for our growing family. 

  The frivolity may have come into play in the basement, as I had planned in addition to the 3 bedrooms down there, a large rec room, kitchenette and movie theater room….

Hey, it was my dream house, I could dream big, right?!?!?!

  When I was 7 months pregnant with Avery, someone approached us about our home, we named a price, and without batting an eye, he said yes, he’d take it! 

  In fact, it went as far as the preparation of loan paperwork before I chickened out.

  I didn’t want to live in a tiny rental with baby #3 on the way.  It felt too rushed, too easy, and we didn’t have our ducks in a row with a piece of land purchased, or money in the bank to start building.  We would’ve had to rent a small home in town for YEARS while we saved up. 

  Not happening!!! My poor country boy needed his wide open spaces! 

  When we were pregnant with Paxton, our third baby in three years, our home was feeling too small!  I started praying over my “Land Wish list” each evening during our prayer time. Here is the list:

Heavily tree’d, no more than 1 mile off a dirt road, north of town, has good well water, AND was a certain price per acre.

Nothing could be found to meet this list, so we just kept on fixing up this home while we waited on the Lord.  Then, in a 2 week time period, and out of the clear blue sky:

  4 different couples from 4 different walks of life, made it clear they were interested in our home. 

  What?  That’s crazy! 

 Our Home was NOT on the market, just friends of friends mentioning, in passing, that Dale and Tonya MIGHT be interested in selling one day. 

  It felt like the Lord was trying to show us something by bringing us 4 people in one week, so in trying to hold our “things” with a loose hand, we started the process of walking through the sale of our home….the only home we’ve lived in our entire marriage. 

  After much prayer, we decided it was worth selling, (with baby 4 on the way in the next month mind you) IF it meant we could get out of  debt.  This meant we were going to have to rent in town until we had saved up enough to build, AND found our dream land.  Even Dale was ok with that this time, knowing it would just be for a season. We were so tired of medical debt and extra bills!

  That very Saturday, my Uncle called us:

“Are you guys still looking for some land? I think I may have found you some!”

  A sweet little lady had lost her husband and needed to sell the land they had built a home on 20 years ago.  The house was gone, but the land was available.

  It was fully treed!  As in Can’t-see-the-neighbors-can’t-see-the-road-Wilderness kind of property!  Not only that, but it was north of town.  It was 1 mile off of paved road.  It had a crick running through it, a spring fed pond, a hill to build a home with a walk-out basement on, and was half the price of others we had looked at in the past. 

Land Collage 5

It was EVERYTHING on my “Land Wish List.”

  Surely this had to be a sign from the Lord that FINALLY, we were going to be able to start to move forward with our dream to build.  Right?!

  We went and walked the land and fell in LOVE


 You should feel it out there…. I actually got tears in my eyes as we walked down the long, curved, tree-lined driveway.  It seriously had a canopy of trees arching above it…something I had only dreamed of having!!  

  As the sun sparkled down through the branches at me, I knew, THIS was the property I had prayed for, I could feel it. 

Land Collage 2

This property was something special, there was no doubt.

  We talked with the sweet owner at length, finding out she was a believer and that she had been praying for the right family to sell her property to all these years.  She told us stories of the Lord’s blessing on that property and that she felt His presence every time she was out there.  No wonder we had chills, we had felt it too!

  We felt peace to move forward with the land purchase, while we waited to see if one of the 4 couples would decide to buy our home.  Doing this would get us out from under the mound of debt that threatened to drown us after a 30,000 pay cut, 4 miscarriages and 3 babies to pay for with another on the way.  {we paid for each of our children on our own…..no maternity coverage}

  We knew full well we’d have to rent a place in town for YEARS, as we tucked away money to build.  We had committed to not break ground on the new land until we had at least 20% of the total house cost saved up.

  We found a gorgeous, large rental in short order, found “THE” floor plan, and began to work with our builder of choice. Things were really falling into place.


  I went to sign paperwork on the land, finally off of 6 1/2 months of bed rest, contracting every 15 minutes.  By the time Pax was born a few days later, we had purchased the land of my dreams and we had a floor plan in place……. 

YAY!  Life was good!  

But then, things begin to change…… 

One by one, the buyers dropped off for various reasons, and 2 months later, we entered the most difficult financial time of our lives. The Financial Discipline I referenced in a link at the beginning of this post, a time when the money all but stopped coming in.    

We sought the Lord, asking the question: WHY?

Why the green light quickly followed by a major RED, again Lord?!  

 Over our 12 months of Financial discipline, the Lord begin to do a work in our hearts. We fell back love with THIS home.   


The one we had been living in our entire marriage.  015 (2)

This old, 1930’s Ranch-style home, that needs lots more work done, had a special place in our hearts after all.  Maybe we shouldn’t build on that land?

011 (2)

What was WRONG with me? Surely I was just being nostalgic, because we came home to this house from our honeymoon, and our babies knew no other home.  

Besides, look at this Dream Land, it’s AMAAAAZING!

Land Collage 1

But the thoughts kept returning to my mind:

 The property we live on is pretty!  This home, an answer to the specific prayers of a 20-year-old, newlywed couple……..

Why couldn’t it be enough?


  I told you this story, so you could understand how perfectly things fell into place.  

  But also to say, that as we continue to move forward, healing and rebuilding after Surviving Infidelity, Thriving in spite of it.  We have died to self a thousand times, and we know…..

The America Dream needs to go.  

 We don’t NEED to build our dream house anymore. The urgency diminished.  The desire is gone. 

The dreams we had of a big house on our dream property, died away, and were replaced with better dreams, better priorities along the journey to a whole new us.  

The place we call HOME is wonderful.    


   Mostly these past 3 years have taught me, that this Earthly Home, is not our forever home.  

  Our home is an eternity in Paradise with Christ!  

  I was reminded that when I fix your eyes on Jesus, everything else falls away. Our thoughts should not be Earthly thoughts, but Heavenly thoughts.  Our treasures should be stored up in Heaven, NOT here on Earth.  Somehow, along the way, I had gotten a bite of the American Dream, of what I thought I deserved or needed and missed looking around our property and home, with all its beauty.  

     snow collage

  I don’t know what God has in store for us. 


  I may not ever understand why we almost sold our home all those times to all of those people. 

  Why we bought the PERFECT land, thinking we had the green light to build, only to sell it again almost 3 years later.

Land Collage 4

  But I can tell you one thing, the Lord’s hand is always in it. 


  The Lord used our year of financial drought to re-align our priorities, He used our 2 years of fighting for our marriage, to remind us how short our time here on Earth is, to be thankful in ALL things and to be content.

“This is not my home.  My treasure is in Heaven, my home is with Christ.”  ~Rachel Chan

  And so, we walk away from that dream and chapter of our lives, with total and complete peace in our hearts……

Praise you Jesus!






11 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home

  1. This hits especially close to home for me this morning, as we are walking a similar path where doors that were once open and beckoning have begun to close. And the verse that has been resonating for me is 1 Tim 6:6-7, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Thanks for posting this morning 🙂

  2. Such a perfect spot for your sweet family. Love all the photos….such a cozy place for you all to grow up! =) LOVE this post – thanks for sharing God’s goodness!

  3. Wonderful story. I’m glad to know it all worked out to the beauty of God’s perfect will for you and your family.
    Those 17 acres!! A beautiful place you have there.
    God bless you.

  4. This post is so well timed for our family! Thank you for showing us how God has worked in your life! It seems He has given your family some incredible signs throughout the years. During this season in our life; so called-living the American dream…we find ourselves pondering downsizing. We purchased our dream home about a year and a half ago and we love it! However, shortly after moving in, we accepted Jesus into our hearts. We are now seeing with a different lens and are wondering if it might be in God’s plan for me to be a stay home and possibly even homeschooling mom. We are praying that God will reveal to us his plan for us! Thank you for your beautiful encouraging words!

  5. Pingback: Master Bedroom Makeover | 4 little Fergusons

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