History lessons from an old house Homesteading Inspiration Rural Life

What Defines an Opulent Home?

Would you like to increase your home’s value? In your own eyes? In the eyes of your children? Surprisingly, all that’s sometimes needed is a little distance…

There’s a story I love to tell about the house with golden windows. (I’m not just a crazy chicken lady and homesteading homeschool mom; I’m also a professional storyteller, so I have a few stories tucked away that tend to spill out sporadically. )

The Longing

A sweet, hard-working farm boy thinks another home, far across the long valley, is the epitome of a perfect life. Every evening he rushes to complete his farm chores, longing to lean against the barn–during those magical minutes of promise as the sun is setting–and peer north. He squints, and he quietly waits. Most evenings he is rewarded with a glimpse of a magical house that is surely filled with joy, ease, and perfection.

When he catches sight of the house with the golden windows gleaming in opulence, he longs to know what life would be like in that luxury.

The Journey

So when his father gives him a Saturday off, when he is free to spend his hours in any way he chooses, he has no hesitation. He packs some hard boiled eggs, apples, and water and tells his momma he won’t be back until long after supper.

When he reaches the place he has been desiring to see in all its glory, up close, he assumes he miscalculated his route. It’s just a homestead, not unlike his own. The fences are in need of repair, not unlike his own. The cow is complaining and mooing for her evening bale of hay, not unlike his own.

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And the chicken, not unlike his own in these waning minutes of daytime, are scurrying for their roosts, across the yard that they have  scratched and dirtied all day.

Nativity scenes should have hens

The paint is peeling off of the barn’s clapboard and the home’s windows are simply made of old wavy glass, like the glass he peers out of every morning; it’s not the golden opulence he expected when he squinted toward this perfect mansion from afar.


A kind mother greets the youthful stranger on her doorstep, and an affable farm girl invites him into conversation while he helps her close up the coop and toss hay in the cow’s stall. He apologizes for being misdirected, explaining he set out this morning to find the amazing home he has always longed to live in, the home with lustrous golden windows.

The View

She tells him he has indeed come the wrong direction. She explains the opulent home he speaks of is in this valley, but it’s over on the far side, pointing over his right shoulder. He turns, looks back across the valley, and instantly realizes his foolishness of longing for something better, when indeed his home was the best of all for him. He realizes that his own home, far away, perched on the southern mountain of the lush valley, is shimmering in the sunset even more brilliantly than any other could.

Sometimes we simply need separation from our daily blessings. A little distance changes our view. If we occasionally glimpse the value of the love and joy that we share with those whom we love, well, we occasionally see “home” in all its opulence. Only then can we understand that “home” is more valuable than any other jewels we may long for.


Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of bitter truths I can tell you about our 200-year-old farmhouse.

And in this post I let you in on 3 secrets old-farmhouse owners might never tell you.


I thought of that story when I read my teen daughter’s recent blog post, which includes our artful depictions of our home when she and I recently sat down to create some Artist Trading Cards together. She shares a beautiful photograph of our red cape  that sits on the hill by the river. Our transom indeed looks golden, and I adore the way she describes our diminutive home historically.


What’s your most “opulent” treasure on YOUR homestead?

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11


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Please take a second to follow along here on SoulyRested to catch up on a few of my memorable mishaps, discover fascinating things about my centuries-old farmhouse, glean a little parenting/homeschooling insight from this momma who’s been failing at the effort for almost 2 decades, or enjoy the inside scoop on the secrets other legit homesteaders might not tell you.

Glance at my Resource Page if you’d like to get a glimpse of all the supplies I use and recommend for everything from gardening, to homeschooling, to chicken care, to nature journaling, to maple syrup making. Many readers often ask what camera I use to take the images you find here on SoulyRested. I love my Nikon; you can read more about my camera and even purchase your own here.

I hope my focus always encourages you, because simple joys require hard work. Let’s face it, we all need all the encouragement we can get!

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6 Comment

  1. I’ve heard this story before, somewhere, and it is, indeed, a good lesson. Thanks for reminding me of it.
    One saying that helps me through all sorts of boredom with reality is, “These are the problems we wanted; we signed up for this.” For instance, having to scoop hay to the cows is part of owning them, and we wanted cows a LOT. Scooping hay in (or out!) was one of the things we said we wanted, whether we thought of it that way or not. And we certainly do not want the problems others have, of being at less than optimal health because of eating foreign beef or drinking dead milk. Nope, not those problems!
    Another practice I have is to go outdoors at night and look into my own windows and see the entire interior from a totally different perspective. It is amazing how much my ho-hum home looks like a magazine cover, when viewed through the windows. This exercise also helps me correct a few things, if needed, in the appearance of my rooms, since I can see it all from an outsider’s eyes. 😉
    Thanks, again, for all the work you put into this post. Amazing photos! 🙂

  2. My treasure is the view of our chicken coop out my bedroom window. I love that building, and how magical it looks from the window in every season. I love how it looks behind the snow covered branches of our apple trees in winter with a backdrop of a gentle snowfall on a gray winter day. I love how it looks in spring behind the blossoms of the apples yet to come. I love how it looks, just barely peeking out from behind the fully leaved trees in summer with their bright red fruit ripening on the branches. And I even love how it looks behind the branches of the trees in the autumn when the leaves have turned brown or have fallen off completely… it’s little red structure looks happy and hopeful behind it all.

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