When Jefferson and I first moved into our new home in March, we knew we had a lot of work to do before the house really felt like our home. The mint green bathroom – complete with matching mint green sink and tub, the 1970s chic linoleum kitchen ’tile,’ the wallpaper…all that wallpaper…

…And the backyard. Since we first got married, I told Jefferson all I wanted was a small house with a big backyard. I love the outdoors. I love gardening (in theory I guess, we’ve never had a backyard before!) I love bird watching and reading beneath the shade of a big, beautiful tree on a warm, breezy summer afternoon. My own oasis.

Our new backyard was an oasis – but definitely not my kind of oasis. It came complete with a HUGE above ground pool, a fully-functional sauna, and gardens. Gardens everywhere. There was no space for our dog to run around. No room for my theoretical vegetable garden. No room for my reading-beneath-a-big-old-tree dreams.

Even just looking into the backyard filled me with anxiety. I avoided it as best I could. I knew this was going to be the biggest project of all, and I honestly did not want to think about it. I wished I could erase the last 50 years of our yard’s history and start fresh, with just a big pile of dirt. No more dead flowers. No more pool. Definitely no more run-down sauna!

And then when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, we discovered a hidden “second” backyard, tucked away behind the pool. We had completely missed it the first time we visited the house. In this little, cleared out area of the back, were dozens of dead plants, completely overgrown, and a tiny pond. With fish.

Our house had sat empty all winter, as it was an estate sale. But those little fish survived. As an animal lover, I felt a bit guilty as I wished these little guys were already dead so I wouldn’t have to deal with them. But they survived. They were alive and well.

After I discovered the pond, I gradually became more and more annoyed at our backyard situation. The anxiety about our upcoming backyard renovation to remove the pool and sod the ground, and frustration about all the new problems I seemed to continuously find every time I stepped foot back there was enough to make me cry (pathetic, I know – but this whole moving ordeal was pretty overwhelming for me).

A few weeks later, once the pool was finally removed and I was able to walk into the backyard without completely breaking down, I made my way through the soaked, muddy ground, pushed past the overgrown bushes, and sat by the pond. Although I was not a fan of these fish, I wanted to make sure they were still alive.

It was a sunny, spring afternoon. A cool breeze pushed by, and the only noise I heard was the light rustle of leaves and birds chirping in the distance. About 10 little fish floated around the pond, eating algae and blowing bubbles. And suddenly, instead of anxiety and frustrating and anger, I felt peace. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

I was Grateful for my yard, and even for my new fish buddies. Grateful for the true peace that I, someone with multiple severe anxiety disorders, feel so infrequently. Grateful for the birds chirping, and for our home. For the “perfect” little home with the big yard, which I believe God guided us towards.

It was such a strange feeling, watching how almost instantaneously, something so stressful and frustrating, could so quickly turn into something so beautiful and peaceful.