Why We Have to Move

In November 2015, my husband Gregg accepted a job at Fort Knox, Kentucky. It wasn’t an easy decision to move 120 miles from our home of seven years. Our son Scott celebrated his first birthday in that house and a few months later, Jeb came home from the hospital to that house. Kaylee started fifth grade right after we moved there, and we moved her into a college apartment as we left. Hallee the Homemaker was born there, and I took thousands of people a month on the journey of keeping that house a home and loving my family inside those walls.

Here is a Hallee the Homemaker post that gives you an idea of the love we put into the rooms of the house:



We met with a realtor to put it on the market. The home had already grown in its original value. The next morning, a woman whose son was in Taekwondo with our sons called and asked what we were going to do with the house. She said, “I could only dream of living in a house as nice as that. It’s literally my dream house.” I told Gregg about the conversation and he called her husband and asked what they could afford in rent. After a long conversation, they agreed that we’d rent it to them for what they could afford (at a loss to us) until they could purchase the home – and they’d focus on getting their credit and finances in a position to do so.

Fast forward six years. We finally said, “This is your last lease. It’s a two-year lease. We have to have a closing date by December 1, 2022, or you need to move out by December 31st.”

We thought they were buying it all the way until October, when he called and asked Gregg to pay the closing costs. To which Gregg said, “No. But if you’re out on the 31st and the house is clean, we’ll give you December’s rent back.”

Looking back now, we kind of chuckle at the conversation.

Ya’ll, this house was destroyed. DESTROYED.

I’d hate to see what they’d do to a house that wasn’t their “dream house.”

It was destroyed with an insidiousness that’s reserve for horror movies. Here’s a slide show of some of the damage:

When they weren’t out on January 2, I sat at the curb and called Gregg who couldn’t get away until the next day. “I can smell the house from here,” I told him. “I don’t even know what to do.” We basically told them that anything left would be thrown away and they needed to be gone by 5pm.

That evening, I was holding my breath and trying to do a walk-through to see where to start and Gregg called. I accidentally took a breath when I answered and had to run outside and throw up. I’ve never quite experienced such an overwhelming smell in my life.

It’s now February 11th. They’ve been gone for 5 weeks. The smell is almost gone because we’ve ripped up all of the floors and taken down quite a few walls. I’ve learned how to clean giant black swatches of fly poop (not kidding) and that when animal urine saturates wood floors it turns them black and you have to sand them down. We had to have plumbers come and fix the pipes that had been stripped of their copper, we had to have HVAC replace the furnace someone had set fire to, an electrician will need to figure out why a series of lights on the first floor don’t work at all and why the refrigerator outlet throws the breaker, and we’ve had a 30-foot dumpster dumped THREE TIMES and still have it outside of the house for more trash because we’re not finished with the yard. {deep breath} And the list goes on.

At first, we kind of just wandered in circles, with Vicks Vaporub under our masked noses, trying to figure out where to start. Now we have a plan.

The original, before I went there on January 2nd plan, was to spend the week cleaning and patching 8-years worth of a 5-children family holes in the walls. Maybe do some light landscaping. Then put the house on the market, sell it, pay off all of our remaining debt, and start our 5-year retirement plan.

Instead, we’re already well into the estimated $30,000 worth of damage repairs and we have no choice but to move back.


Because we can’t sell it for a loss and we can’t afford to continue to pay double the mortgage in rent in a home 120 miles away and continue to have the added expense to keep going there every weekend to fix it. So we’ve made the really, really hard decision to get it fixed up enough to a point where we can move into the basement (which is already demo’d down to studs and cement floor) and live there and fix a room at a time.

Was this our plan? Of course not. However, it is our reality.

We have a wonderful community we’ve spent 8 years building here. Our family has thrived living at Fort Knox. But we aren’t going to go into this decision kicking and screaming.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoicing was hard at first, though we covered it all with prayer. We’ve been drawing plans, having long conversations (many of which involved wine and bourbon) and came to the decision that we’re going to make the house better than it was before, move walls, build rooms, landscape the way it should have been done the first time, and create a beautiful home.

It’s not where we planned to move next, but it’s where we’re going so we are counting our blessings. We have the ability and the tools to do what needs to be done. We both work jobs that allow us to live anywhere we want. We have the resources to do it (slowly). We will be local to our daughter and her husband – which is ultimately what we all wanted.

And I get to have a big office on the second floor of the house.

And chickens. Gregg’s already designed my coop.

Once we got over the initial shock and anger (though I’ll admit that I find that anger creeping in at unexpected times and I really really really hope I never have to see either one of those people ever again in my entire life), we are now looking forward to not only the project, but the final result.

And we will miss Fort Knox and the community we built desperately. But we are going back to a foundation of a community we had before and are looking forward to seeing what is next.


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    • Trudy on February 11, 2023 at 16:44
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    Wow!!! God has a plan, for sure!! I can’t wait to see the pictures of how you fix up the house, and then use that house for God’s glory!!

    • Laurie Wood on February 11, 2023 at 17:08
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    I’m so sorry you had to go through this horror show! I’m not familiar with US law but can’t you sue them for damages of some kind?

      • Jennifer on March 7, 2023 at 07:10
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      I was thinking the same.

  1. Wow just wow!!! My dear Hallee! I can’t even imagine how anyone can even dream up that much destruction much less do it! But I know our Father is guiding every step as well as providing!

    • Vicki Underwood on February 11, 2023 at 17:44
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    I’m so so sorry that you are having to go through all this. However, I know God has a hedge of protection around you and your precious family and I can’t wait to see what you do with the house. I remember several years ago sharing a delicious meal with you in that home. Your boys were small and Jim, Shelby and I brought them stuffed animals. I believe that Gregg was deployed at the time. I just wanted you to know that I will be praying for you and I’m sure the friends you had in Winchester will welcome you back with open arms. I live in Maysville now but hope to see you sometime when I visit with Shelby there in Winchester.
    Love and prayers,
    Your friend,
    Vicki (Boone) Underwood

    • Terry on February 11, 2023 at 18:00
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    God must have a heck of a plan for you all! Remember this, you can’t out give Him! You were giving to help people who God loves and He takes that personal! Expect a “pour open the windows of heaven” blessing!

    • Melissa Main on February 11, 2023 at 18:31
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    I love the way you have taken a really awful situation and tried to make the best of it. Your choices have been inspiring. You have the grit to do the hard things in life, and I am sure that your example is just what other people needed to see. I’m sure that for people in a really hard place your story can inspire them to make difficult decisions to move forward.

    • Ruth on February 11, 2023 at 18:44
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    You are an amazing woman Hallee. Your family too. , because our God is your light, strength & power. Therefore, go raising His banner of victory & peace that only He can provide. I’m sure gonna miss you but I will definitely be praying for you all
    and following your journey, books, wise words of encouragement and rejoicing. May God continue to watch over, and bless you!

    • Janet Holm McHenry on February 11, 2023 at 19:32
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    How people could be so awful . . . I just do not understand.

    And others wonder why we won’t Airbnb our guest house.

    I’m so sorry.

    • Connie Camden on February 12, 2023 at 00:13
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    Hallee, As I read your post Romans 8:28 kept running over and over in my mind. Through this act of evil that you’re having to endure, we will see God’s good worked out in your behalf, because you and Gregg are called according to God’s purpose and it is evident that you love Him. I’m in awe of God in you my friend. I pray you see Him at every turn as He restores what the locust have taken. I’m confident you will come out better and the house will surpass its former glory when your done. Right now you’re having to go through it but there will come a day when this will be behind you. God is on your side, you cannot fail. The journey is hard but the destination makes it worth the investment. My prayers are for and with you all my friend. ❤️

  2. Some day stories will be told about the transformation of this house. You will have taken something that was wretched and redeemed it for God’s glory. Sort of like our salvation story. We were utterly lost, but God saved us and is constantly building and remodeling our lives. Praying for you.
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    • Michelle L. on February 13, 2023 at 08:52
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    Oh my goodness – I am so sorry you are experiencing this. I’ve never seen anything like it. How awful for you. But, God will restore the years the locusts ate. Joel 2:25. What these people meant for evil God will turn to good. Gen. 50:20. Prayers for you.

      • Robert on February 22, 2023 at 09:11
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      Wine & Bourbon ?

      “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise
      Proverbs 20: 1

    • Diana on February 13, 2023 at 10:31
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    Goodness, I cannot understand how others can trample on grace they are given freely. I’m sorry for the damage done, but joyful that you will be nearer to K. and that eventually your home will be a place that you will be happy in again.
    Praying for your work to be as light and stress free as possible.

  3. Oh, Hailey, I’m so sorry! But boy, how I can relate! We had the exact same experience over 20 years ago, and talk about stressing! Had to gut most of the house. But Heavenly Father worked it out and taught us that His plans are what matter. Plus, I think there’s a special place reserved for people like that.
    Good luck with everything. My prayers are with you guys.

    • Sarah Taylor on February 22, 2023 at 18:52
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    Hallee I am so sorry you and your husband had to go through this ! My prayers are with you!

    • E.L.Davis on March 6, 2023 at 14:58
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    OMG! Sometimes we are tested and this is your time. Prayers for you and yours and I am sorry I am not close enough to help.

    • Adiaha on March 6, 2023 at 16:15
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    This is horrible ☹️ I hate that this happened to your family

    • Nicole House on March 6, 2023 at 21:17
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    Oh, wow! I’m not sure how long it would take me to feel thankful in your situation. We have 6 kids (now almost 17 to almost 28) and we never have done anything even remotely close to that to a house! It defies explanation. I will be thinking of you as you move back and renovate, and I hope you post pictures in the process! It’s great that you will be able to do things yourselves, and it’s a perfect opportunity to make it what you want.

  4. Reading about your resilience in the face of such a challenging situation is truly inspiring, Hallee. Your determination to turn this setback into an opportunity for transformation is admirable. In similar situations, one tip that can add value to the restoration process is to consider enlisting the help of professional restoration experts who specialize in handling extensive damages. Their expertise might streamline the repair process and ensure a more efficient and comprehensive restoration. Wishing you and your family strength and success in rebuilding your beautiful home!
    Napier recently posted…Comparing Professional Cleaning Companies: Which One is Right for You?My Profile

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