We bought this house in June 2011, after living across the street in a rental home for a year. We knew we wanted to stay in this area. And we really wanted to stay on this particular street. We had made great friends. We loved the schools and the church congregation we belonged to. And we loved our neighbors. So as we set out with our realtor, we warned her that we had a very long list of criteria and a very narrow radius for her to search in.
We looked at a few homes but we didn't love any of them. None of them felt like our home. Until we walked into this one. Craig was cautious about it, because it was slightly out of our price range, and he didn't want me to be influenced solely by the street that it was on. So, I tried to be impartial. But I loved everything about this house. I loved the landscaping and the way it looked from the street. I loved that it had mature trees. And I really LOVED that our beloved friends would still be close by.
And then we walked in and I saw this...
It's difficult to tell from this picture, but this is just half of the room. This space is where our piano and Gladys, the bass, currently live. The other side of the room is where the dining room and the buffet live. As soon as I saw this giant open space, I immediately envisioned filling it with youth. Really, I actually SAW them. Do you have visions like that? I have them all the time. Just little fleeting pictures or glimpses or feelings sometimes of things coming up. They're not like premonitions. Just little comforting visions of future possibilities. As soon as I had this vision, I also had immediate confirmation that this was the right home for us. In fact, I was content to stop house hunting at that point and just make an offer. Craig wanted to continue looking. But after some relentless pestering over the next 24 hours, he finally gave in and we bought this house.
We have used this space well over the past three years. We have had my family and Craig's stay for extended visits. We have had missionary discussions, family home evenings, home teacher visits, and presidency meetings here. The youth have come in smaller groups for game nights, wii tournaments, pie making demonstrations, and pre-dance parties. And we've had many, many dinners, parties, and celebrations with people we love. I am happiest when this space is filled with people.
But last night, we did what I had seen in that "vision" three years ago...
Last week, Craig realized that the planned combined activity for the first Wednesday in April had been cancelled and that his little group of very YOUNG Deacons were in charge of coming up with a new one. He was at a convention in Las Vegas, with less than a week to plan, and would not have access to the church gym because of another scheduled activity there. Eek! Between meetings in Las Vegas, Craig texted me various ideas for a group activity. Finally, he found one that would work, with few logistical requirements. We just needed a space to do it.
So I begged him to let us to do it at our house. I knew it was possible because I had seen it, hadn't I? With a little bit of redecorating and some creative seating, I was sure we could fit them all into our house. He was hesitant at first, but I think with no other viable option in mind, he had no choice but to give in.
We moved everything but the dining room table and the piano out of the room. We put the dining room chairs up against the back wall, moved a leafless dining room table into the front corner (where Gladys normally lives) and used it as a TV stand. And then, with an iPad and and Apple TV, played a rousing game of General Conference Scene It. So fun!
There were 10 youth leaders, 2 missionaries, 1 Bishop, and approximately 40 kids in our house last night. They ate 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 2 pans of brownies, and 2 dozen sugar cookies, and they drank 10 quarts of lemonade. And I loved it! I loved that they didn't mind snuggling up close together. I loved that they were so competitive and excited about this game. I loved that their energy could be felt in every part of the house. I loved that when they got bored, a few of them wandered into the kitchen to talk to me. I loved that the older boys helped Craig reset the room afterward. And I loved that every single one of them said, "Thank you," as they walked out my front door.
But mostly, I was just grateful all day long that we have the space to even think about doing something like this. I am grateful for a husband who doesn't mind my visions, who hears me when I am insistent, and who can execute all my crazy ideas. And I'm grateful for the opportunity that we have to be in the presence of these awesome kids on a regular basis.
I loved everything about last night and look forward to lots more youth activities at our house.