Our Story

You could say it started with a chicken,
... but our story begins long before we ever dreamed of eggs. In the early days of our marriage we dreamed of living on a ranch in Colorado.  It happens to be where we honeymooned.  Wide open spaces, wild and free.  I wanted to live my childhood dream of being Laura Ingalls Wilder ...with air conditioning.  But Colorado was too far from our close knit North Carolina family.  Before children were in the picture, we fantasized about bringing the dream closer to home as we drifted through the mountains of North Carolina. Rolling scenery, wide open spaces, and nature beckoned.  
And then reality set in.  We had jobs.  We had a mortgage.  We had a baby.  Which meant we had parents that were suddenly grandparents.  Life took over and the dream of wild and free was shelved.  
Suburbia neighborhood living was our comfort zone.  But the dream still niggled at the end of the day.  And so we started saying, "One day."  
One day we will follow our dream.  
One day we will be wild and free. 
One day we will seek wide open spaces.

We said "one day" for many years.  Until suddenly it occurred to us that if we don't do something, our children aren't going to be able to enjoy "one day" with us.  We wanted to experience wide open spaces with them.  We wanted to be wild and free before our bodies were too old and tired to build a fence or plow a field.

And so it began.

We made a list of all the things we desired in our "one day" dream.  When a dream is still a dream, you are more willing to speak the unrealistic, the unattainable.  We dreamed of land not too far from our current home.  We dreamed of woods and rolling fields.  We dreamed of a creek and a pond.  We dreamed of a specific school district and a quiet road.  We dreamed of the impossible.

And then we searched.
Night after night we scoured the internet looking for land possibilities.  
And then we saw the price tag.
Yes, indeed we had dreamed the impossible.

Our Creator, who knows our deepest desires, heard our prayers.  He knew the emotional struggle we faced in choosing to move away from the next-door-neighbor grandparents in order to seek our dream.  And yet He had a plan.  A plan much more perfect than our hearts could ever imagine.

Our journey to Willow Hill Farm was far from easy.  Painful and humbling.  Gut-wrenching and beautiful.

Fortunately, God uses our mistakes and poor choices to make something beautiful.  Our mistakes were financial.  The house we were living in had become our own worst enemy.  We had gotten in too deep with the mortgage.  Debt was clawing its way into our every thought.  We were in financial trouble and we had to sell our house.  Even if we didn't chase our "one day" dream, we needed to be rescued from the mess we had made.  And so we put our house on the market.
In the midst of making that very difficult decision, we got a phone call from a man who barely knew us.  An angel, really.  He said, "I heard you might be looking for some land.  My uncle has some land available but it isn't on the market."  We dared not look at each other, as hope bubbled just below the surface.  Could this be possible?

He encouraged us to take a drive out to the country to see the land.  A beautiful mess, but it was perfect.  It met ALL the boxes on our impossible dream list.  

So many hours searching, and yet this piece of property was placed in our lap by God.  We were in awe.
Our timing isn't God's timing, and He had a refiner's fire for us to walk through.  Even though we had been given the gift of our dream property, we still had many challenges to face.  It took a year to sell our house.  It was probably the most difficult year of my life.  Not only were we stressed out about selling our home, feeding our children, and making our mortgage payments; we were met with the challenge of disappointing our family.  By chasing our dream, we were ending their season of life spent living next door to the grandchildren.  Change is hard, no matter how necessary or good.

During that year of challenge, we did some deep soul searching.  Our marriage grew stronger as we clung to each other through the storm.  We prayed that no matter the outcome, we would honor God with our choices.  We desired to use our property to glorify Him and reach out to others.

On a glorious 2012 June day, we signed the papers and became homeless, ready to chase the dream.
We had a vision... and a permit box!
Our first priority was to build a place for our growing number of chickens.  They moved to the farm before we did!

 It was a family affair.  Every day we put our kids muscles to work.  We had fun.  We had grumpy, hot days.  We had a summer of learning that dreams don't come easy.
 We've never worked so hard in our life!

We designed and built our home from scratch.  I'm the visionary, but my man is a builder by trade, so he knew how to make it happen.

Dear, selfless friends showed up with willing hands. 
All hands on deck! (literally)

We built the barn and the house at the same time.

Willow Hill Farm (before)

Willow Hill Farm (after)



Our desire is to reflect God's glory and beauty.   As you join us through this blog, we hope you will find serenity, inspiration,  and a lil' Southern hospitality.


  1. Hello, This was so wonderful! I love reading how God fills our hearts with a dream and allows us to walk it out. You have a home filled with prayer and His plans to bless and prosper us!
    I love this so much... I live in CO. Have chickens , and a big chunk of land! We have grown and struggled over 20 years. and have loved most of it :o)
    Blessings, Miss Roxy

  2. I LOVED this!! You are doing what so many of us would love to do. I wish I could pick up our house and set in on 50 acres somewhere. All kids need a place to explore and run free. We always had a lot of land where I grew up and I miss that for myself and my kids. I love this adventure you shared and will definitely be reading more. I'm so happy for you!!

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful home! I love your kitchen as I am contemplating painting my icky oak cabinets a clean crisp white. What is the paint color you used on your cabinets? Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Oh it is just so beautiful--your story and your home! We do have to go through trials until God's timing but His plan turns out to be so much better. What a mighty God we serve!

  5. Oh, Gretchen, this is a beautiful post! I've loved watching as you turned Willow Hill Farm from dream into reality. God has blessed you mightily, and I love the story of His faithfulness and yours! :)

    Thank you for linking this to Grace at Home. I'm featuring you this week!

  6. What a wonderful family story. It's a blessing and I can see it was built with love.

  7. Your story and home are beautiful, Gretchen... Just found you through Imparting Grace! So thankful for dreams that come through and answered prayers! Would love for you to come share it at our link party on my blog please :) Look forward to looking around your blog!
    Kendra @ www.joyinourhome.com

  8. BEAUTIFUL!! what a lovely place to call home. God is Good!


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