Judith Ann’s Story

Site created on September 21, 2019

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Journal entry by Lisa Schillinger

Happy Summer! I hope you all are doing well. I have intended to write this post for quite some time now, and I've written it at least 10 times in my head, but I haven't sat down to put my thoughts in writing till now. It's probably because it always brings that bittersweet pain that I try to avoid. It reminds me how much I miss her and how there will always be a hole in my heart until we meet again. But I want you all to know how the story ends.

A lot has happened since my last post shortly after the funeral. Very suddenly we were faced with a pandemic and things were changing very quickly. I remember being very thankful that God knew all this and his timing allowed us to have a traditional visitation and funeral to honor my mom. It was so wonderful to see you all and it reminded me once again that my mom was so very blessed with abundant friends and family who stood with us during our most difficult days. It was the exclamation point on a life well lived and loved. It also reminded me that part of me always belonged on that farm. That no matter how far I traveled, it would always be home.  

It all started one Saturday morning when Mike came downstairs to make coffee as he always does. I was already in the kitchen and hadn't really woke up yet. He hadn't even got the coffee started when he asked me "What do you think about buying the farm?" It took me a minute to process that because honestly I hadn't even considered it. Then suddenly it seemed like all the pieces fell into place and it seemed so right. A little back story for you all in case you are new here. I grew up on that farm mowing the yard and mopping that floor and cooking and cleaning that house. I had always loved it and when we would visit as we often did, I still considered it home. My mom and I always shared decorating and renovating ideas. She would do something and text me a picture and I would do the same. I don't remember ever doing anything without getting her opinion first and she as well. I always knew my love of design came from her. She just always had a knack for it. We painted the walls, made design decisions together and enjoyed every minute of it. Anyway, I moved away from home at barely 18 to attend college and after graduation I moved to the Chicago Suburbs. Mike and I got married shortly after and then started our family. I never figured I would ever move back to that house. But God had other plans.

Once the idea began to settle in, I couldn't shake it. It just seemed like what were supposed to do and that God had been leading us back there this whole time. But in my practical fashion, I thought we should keep our appointments with realtors in the area and see what happened. So we headed down to the farm (after a terrible blowout on I-55 and a 3am arrival back in Chicago which is a whole other story) and arrived just in time to meet with the first realtor. He was a nice young man from the Bloomington area who said that he envisioned a young couple with teenage kids from Chicago possibly moving down there to get some land and away from the city. I just smiled. A few other realtors later and another said that it's a shame you can't keep it in the family. Again. And lastly, enter Denise Torbert. She was our last appointment of the day. By this point we were exhausted after hardly sleeping the night before and barely hanging on. Well, if you know Denise you will appreciate this story and I will never forget it as long as I live. She came in with all her papers in her folder, sat down and folded her hands. She emotionally said "I just think a Holt or a Schmid has to buy this house". Again, I just smiled. She said it a few more times and just couldn't seem to move past that. It was all the confirmation I needed. Before she even opened that folder, I told her and everyone else that I wanted to buy the house. I hadn't known for sure, but God gave me all the confirmation I needed through those we met with that day. After some tears and Dickel whiskey (thanks bro!) and more laughs than I can count, I knew we had made the right decision. God used her to point us in the right direction and I'm so thankful for that. Thank you, Denise!

Fast forward a few months and a pandemic later, we finally closed on the farm. We have spent nearly every weekend there and some additional weeks as it worked out and it has been such a blessing. A lot of therapy and tears have happened out there mowing that grass and tending to the that house. The hawks often fly overhead during the day and the night sky is better than I remembered. Our kids have been able to restore a sense of normalcy in their lives and feel connected to the land that their grandparents and great-grandparents owned. That is something you can't put a price on.

Sometimes we feel like we are living a tale of two cities, but it oddly feels just the way it was meant to be. Re-connecting with our family and friends in central Illinois has been such a gift. I have loved driving down those country roads with bugs splattered all over the car, breathing that fresh air and living the country life. I can't wait till we can have a big reunion on that farm and hug and cry and share our stories. Thank you for being a part of ours. I pray for you all constantly, both city and country.

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