Not many can say that they are raising their children in their own childhood home. But I can.

Not many can say that their lives have gone according to plan. I am in the majority.

Not many can say that even with their faith, they didn’t doubt God’s plans. That would be me.

On a quiet corner in Custer County, a man named George Hilton built the house I call my home. George was famous in his own right, as he was captured in the iconic images of famed photographer Solomon Butcher. George built this home to last, over 100 years ago. When my parents left the service in the mid-1970’s, after making the decision that they wanted to raise a family at “home,” they moved into this house. I came along as first born a few years later, and this was my home for the next 18 years.

It’s almost unheard of these days, to spend one’s childhood in the same house. My own daughter will not be able to say that. When I left here for college, I didn’t consider the possibility that one day I would be back to raise my family in the very rooms that listened and watched me grow. When the opportunity to come home in 2012 came about, I often smiled and cringed at the possibility. It seemed so “odd” at the time, and yet I have friends who are doing the same thing today.

We settled in here, my heart both happy and sad in the knowledge that the bedrooms would not be full of children as they were in my childhood. After more failed infertility treatments and a disastrous experience with an adoption agency, we found an uneasy peace with remaining a one child family.

Room to Love.

Then, in the spring of this year, a most miraculous, humorous, terrifying day when we found out that I was pregnant, without anyone but God intervening to make it happen. Fast forward these past months, and the reality that this baby girl is really coming has finally taken hold.

After I went away to college, my parents opened their hearts and our family home to exchange students and then foster children. The room that was mine, served as the place to welcome them. The wall color has changed repeatedly in 18 years, but the big window still faces east and captures the sun before any other room in the house. The floor still squeaks the same, and the peace I feel in there has not changed.

Room to Love.

I set out a few weeks ago to begin transforming that room into the home that will be forever for our little baby Peterson. Most of my friends and family know, that my uneasy peace was achieved by giving away and selling almost all of my baby things. I was trying to pay forward for the blessing of our daughter. When the reality of this new baby finally became clear, I effectively started over. We are a farming/ranching family so we live within a tight budget. I spent all summer hitting up garage sales and watching for bargains, and enjoying the blessings of friends and family who gifted things to us. Her room is now almost complete, and as I sit in my favorite chair to rest my back before trekking down the steep farmhouse stairs, I am in complete awe of the love that will surround this blessed child as she sleeps.

Room to Love.

I give my dear daughter much of the credit for searching through her own things to gift to her new sister. The added love comes from generations past in the hand-made cradle and bassinet. The rocking horse and crocheted blankets made by our own grandparents and great grandparents. The loved books we read to our daughter and the warm winter clothes gifted by friends whose own children wore them too. The galvanized pail from the barn that holds the blankets from my youth, and the special touches that will remind my daughter every day of how loved she is. The butterflies are two of my favorite pieces. I have always believed them to be symbolic of loved ones in heaven. Baby Peterson has two in her room, for the angel babies that came after Maggie and before her. A verse from Jeremiah will always remind her of God’s love for her.

Room to Love.

Room to Love.

I will fill in the rest when she arrives, with family photos and other touches that match her personality once we get to know her. Only a few short weeks from now.

Thank you for indulging me on a tour of a room that means so much. There is no place like home.

Room to Love.

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Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.