Meet Matt and Kara Christensen
College sweethearts. Happily married. Great jobs. Three beautiful children… but what seemed to be the American dream suddenly fell apart under financial and marital struggles. That is when their story met His story and God’s dream for them began...
Amidst these deep struggles back in 2005, God gave me a dream and I woke up with an acute awareness that we were supposed to move down south. Matt being a Chicago-area native and I from a small town outside of Detroit (and our exposure to the South limited only to the expressway going through it that takes you to Disney), well let’s just say my sweet husband was not convinced the dream was from God. But as time passed more dreams came and I finally found myself researching towns of the South on the internet. After falling in love with pictures of Franklin, Tennessee I decided to book a weekend trip for our family in hopes that the time in Franklin would somehow be used to lead us. Knowing Matt was not at all convinced it was the right thing to do, I began to pray and ask God to show my husband Himself, rather than having it come from my elbow nudging. (Matt is 6’5” and a former linebacker so my elbows don't do much good anyway.)
And boy did He answer! Just days before making the trip, Matt got a call from a home builder he had worked for in previous years. The first thing the former boss said to him was, “Hey Matt, would you ever consider moving down to Franklin, Tennessee for a job?” And here we are!
It didn't seem like much of a plan that God had when after moving Matt was laid off in the housing recession in 2009. But again, we began to see the purpose in the timing. We had spent all our married years fixing up and selling our personal homes as extra income and discovered that we were both gifted in it — Matt in managing one-of-a-kind homes and I in the design of them. So, we jumped out of our comfortable “weekly paycheck lifestyle" boat into the unknown waters of small business ownership. Garden Gate Homes, special one-of-a-kind homes in downtown Franklin, began!
Since then we have put our hearts and hands into adding to the historical appeal and quaint aesthetics of this special town we have become a part of — one sweet home at a time. From “seeing” the initial vision and working with the architects, to searching for historic doors and vintage architectural pieces we can reuse in the design, to working with all the wonderful and talented men and women that make their contributions to the build, to completing the creations with home styling pieces by searching the local antique stores and boutiques (my favorite part!)… it’s a lot of hard work, but we’ve come to realize it’s so much more than that...
Our Next Chapter
Meet the family
Yes, so much more! In March of 2020 when our world fell still with the pandemic, our home became full of life again. Our oldest daughter had to come home just months from her college graduation. Our high schoolers were home from school, unable to do sports, and furloughed from jobs. The first months were full of card games, badminton, games of Sorry, and what seemed to be a thousand family meals together. As special as that time was, it wasn't long before Matt and I decided to teach the kids more aspects of our business. With the family able to work together, it became a perfect opportunity to get the kids more involved than ever before.
Our oldest then joined us full-time after graduating in May 2020! She re-created and now maintains our social media platforms, markets and helps manage our vacation rental, and helps with interior design. She has hit the ground running to keep up with her mom. What a joy it is to pour into her what I've learned!
Once again, Matt and I have witnessed something so beautiful spring forth out of something so hard. We are so thankful and look forward to what God has in store for this growing family business and our growing contributions to this community.