Justin Ricklefs


Reclaiming Meaning in the Things That Matter Most

Brooke and I are in the process of renovating a 146 year old house.  More clearly, we are buying it from an incredible guy that is doing the renovation.  I’m a terrible handyman so it’s good for all involved that I’m not doing the work.


A house will never ultimately satisfy us, but we’re ridiculously excited about it.  This will be the 4th house we’ve owned in our 11+ years of marriage, and it’s the only one that hasn’t been brand new.

Brand new homes have been great.  Not much breaks.  Not much goes wrong.  Everything is pretty.  But the character in those homes was lacking.

This home is a different story.  Huge trees surround the one acre property.  The full brick exterior has withstood tornadoes and hail for nearly 150 years.  The imperfect floors show wear and tear from parties, holiday celebrations, and children running throughout.  The layout isn’t ‘wide open modern’ but it’s rich with story.  Celebration, mourning, mundane.  It’s all happened here.

In short, the thing we are most excited about with this new, old home is that it’s being reclaimed.  It sat vacant for over a decade.  The beautiful two story, single family layout was converted to four, choppy apartments.  A gas line exploded.  A fire took place.  Walls and stairs were in disrepair.  The porch was sinking.  Uninhabitable was the word that described it best.

But tucked away down deep was a house, no a home, that was ready to be reclaimed.  To be set free.  To come forth as a better, stronger version of what once was.

Empty hallways will soon echo with the daily noises of five children.  Trees will be pruned and then climbed.  Porches will be swept, painted and then used for whiskey and rocking chairs.

Stories and memories will be made, ones that honor the legacy of the family that built this home brick by brick.  We’re a stopgap for this home in this small town.  Maybe one of our kids will want to buy it and raise their kids here someday, maybe not.  But regardless, we realize it’s our job to bring out the best in this old home.  To reclaim it for its original intent.

I find something incredibly haunting yet comforting in this old home.  I’m realizing, ever so slightly, that I can see myself in this old place.  Areas that have been neglected.  Places in my life that haven’t been maintained.  Things that were once shiny and beautiful that have become eyesores.  People I’ve let drift from me.  Priorities that have become misplaced.

But the hope of this old home can be my hope too.  There is a current in my world that is reminding me to reclaim the things that matter most to me.

I’m learning that old, dusty, brittle places can be reclaimed.  Restored.  Renewed.  It’s not too late.




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