Monday, October 27, 2014

Good things come to those who wait.

Yes, yes they do! Really. But the saying should really go, "Good things come to those who trust the Lord and wait."

After 17 months of searching, 2 weeks ago tomorrow, we finally bought a house. Closed, signed, official as official can be. {Insert all the happiest dances, cheers and tears here!} Tuesday, October 14th, 2014, I will always remember you fondly.

Rewind 2 months:

We had just returned from our lovely, relaxing 10 day California vacation. Right before our trip, we had seen a listing for a house that really interested us. Unfortunately, our realtor was on vacation the entire week before we left and unable to show it. My husband was also traveling the 3 days before our trip. We called the realtor's office to see if any other realtor could show it before Lee left out of town. No, no one was available because it was the weekend. We tried every way we could think of to see this house before we left for nearly 2 weeks, but to no avail. Frustrated, we gave it to the Lord. If this wasn't the house, so be it. If it was, he could save it for us 2 weeks, right? Well you have to understand something here. Spring and summer are not good times to buy in Charleston, or so we learned. We would literally send our realtor 5-10 listings at a time, and by the time we scheduled to see them, half or more would be sold. Literally. Houses were selling like hot cakes, and if you didn't jump the second one came on the market (like within a day), you were slap out of luck. That's a hard situation to find yourself in when you don't yet live in the city. So, the thought of this house being available 2 weeks later seemed slim to none.

We decided to go on vacation and leave all our house hunting worries behind. We didn't think about, talk about, or look at ANY house listings the whole vacation. Nearly miraculous, as it had been our sole focus all the months prior. We arrive back home Sunday night, and received an email from our realtor Monday morning. Good news! The house we were interested was not only still available, but the sellers had dropped the price $20k! What the what?!? We couldn't believe our eyes. We set up an appointment to go see it that day, and knew immediately upon walking in that this was the one. After looking a dozens and dozens and dozens of houses over the past year, we were beginning to wonder if we'd ever feel, say or know that. But we finally knew that we had found our house. It was everything on our checklist. A 1950's ranch style house that hadn't been renovated since it was built. And it was exactly that, down to the last detail: the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a studio space, a fireplace, open living room + dining room floor plan, hard wood floors throughout, and an untouched kitchen and bathrooms we could renovate to our liking. It was a miracle! We seriously kept saying, we need to find a 50's grandma house that hasn't been updated yet so we can put our own touches on it. And guess what. . . the previous owners are the sweetest 91 and 93 year old couple that have no children and finally moved into assisted living. Our house was there all that time, it just wasn't ready for us yet. Sometimes God's promises just take a little time. 

We put an offer in the next day, and after a little negotiating, had an accepted offer a few days later. We got the house quite a bit under our budget which allowed us to get a home renovation loan to finance all the work that needed to be done. Now we were just praying we could get enough money to do all the things that needed done: new roof, new HVAC, total electrical rewire, update plumbing, gut and renovate kitchen and both bathrooms, paint entire house, and refinish hardwood floors. Closing was scheduled the last day of September. At this point it felt like we breathed a huge sigh of relief, all the while taking another deep breath for a whole lot more waiting. But. . . we would most definitely be bringing this baby home to a house. Our house. Our very first house. That was about the best news we could imagine.

Then life got a bit more crazy. The following 8 weeks were a hilarious combination of house guests every weekend, meetings with contractors, gathering an ungodly amount of paperwork (buying a house is SO. MUCH. WORK.), interviewing doulas, choosing appliances, cabinets, countertops, tile, sinks, faucets, shower doors, wood floor finishes, paint colors and roof shingle colors all within our budget, birthing classes, regular work, life and travel, AND trying to figure out a place to live while all the renovations are under way. Whew, I'm tired just typing that. 

That brings us to two Tuesdays ago. The blessed day we finally closed on our first home. Yes, our closing was delayed twice. Yes, the Lord miraculously provided through an early inheritance gift from my grandparents most the money we needed for our downpayment. Yes, it was a lot of waiting, praying, crying and trusting. Yes, the closing costs ended up being $1500 more than we thought. Yes, the whole process has been bigger than us, more expensive that we could afford, and stretched us to the breaking point. But the good news is we serve a big God. He has big plans for me, for you. He likes to be involved in our lives, and I've realized that sadly, the only way that usually happens is when things are too big or too hard for us to do on our own. It allows Him the chance to step in and be who He is. The big, all powerful, all knowing, all providing God!

Our tentative move in date is mid-December. At least we're crossing our fingers for that. We'd love to spend Christmas in our new house, and have a couple weeks to get unpacked and set up for baby girl's arrival the end of January. But, we shall see. If this whole process has taught me anything (and it has, a whole lot actually), it's this: Our ways are not God's ways. Our timing is not His timing. This life of being a follower of Jesus requires radical faith and radical trust. And a lot of times, it's waiting and trusting without knowing the outcome. That's scary, exciting, and nerve wracking all rolled into one, depending on the day.

The next 2 months don't look a whole lot slower than the last few. In 10 days, we're packing up (again) and moving back to NC to live with our gracious in-laws until the house is finished. My husband leaves for his second 2 week Asia work trip the day after. I have 2 baby showers to look forward to while he's gone. Yay! We leave 5 days after he gets back to spend a week in WA with my family for Thanksgiving. Another big yay! And then hopefully, a couple weeks later, we'll be heading back to Charleston to get moved into our brand new home just in time for Christmas. 

In other news, I'm 26w4d pregnant and baby girl is healthy, growing and quite the kicking machine. I'm feeling great and sleeping great too, thankfully. We're just soaking up every last drop of life as we know it, craziness and all. But we're getting more and more excited to meet and hold our girl. 95 days and counting;)

25 weeks
26 weeks



Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's OK to be needy.

It's OK to be needy. Yes...yes, you. I'm talking to you too. This is something I've had to tell myself every day the past 6 months. When all I want is to have it all together, to feel good at this busy, crazy, day-to-day life. . . I remind myself of what I don't really want to hear but what I so need to hear. It's OK to be needy. To not have it together ALL the time. To mess up or simply be messy. Because I know someone, and you might too. . . who loves to meet us in our messes, and needy-ness, and all those times we fail at having it 'all together'. 

______________________________________


A blur. That's what life feels like right now. An overwhelming, exciting, exhausting blur. Every time I blink, I feel like another week's gone by. Literally. Some days go more slowly, and I feel like I'm able to stop, breath it in, and enjoy it. Others fly by, filled with meetings, and longer to-do lists than I know how to do. One day at a time. . . or so they say (whoever they are).

I'm 23wks and 6 days pregnant (but who's counting) and completely amazed we're just a few short weeks away from the 3rd trimester. It makes me a little nervous about the amount of stuff that needs to be done and purchased (everything!) in just 16 short weeks. I have faith that somehow, by January 30th, we'll be settled in a more permanent housing situation, unpacked, with the basic baby essentials purchased and set up. How this is going to happen I'm not sure, but I remain hopeful.

It's been 15 weeks since we moved to this beautiful new city of ours. I'm falling in love with it a little bit more every day. The past weeks have been filled with traveling and visits from family and friends, along with a million other normal life things. I think we had an 8 week stretch of playing the hostess every single weekend. As fun as it was, we were so thankful for the past 2 weekends of just us. We're trying to soak up as much of that as we can these last few months. Just us. It's weird to think they'll be a third little family member soon. I partly feel like she's already with us, especially with her constant kicks to remind me she's there. She's growing bigger and stronger every day. We both are. . . at least the bigger part;)

In August, we enjoyed a lovely 10 day vacation, baby-moon, anniversary trip celebrating our 5 years together. We have never taken a vacation that long, ever, since being married. We usually spend our vacation days visiting my family in WA, and don't have many days left for us to do anything. This year, especially with baby's soon arrival, we wanted to change that.

We've dreamed about driving California's Hwy 1 coast for some time and decided why not now?! We flew into LA, stayed the night with dear friends, and picked up our Mustang convertible the following morning. We spent 3 days driving up the coast, stopping in the most quaint, cute beach towns imaginable. Driving those twisting, curving roads, with the top down, hair flipping in the wind beside my best friend was truly priceless. Our favorite part of the trip by far. And those views! We had to stop every 5 minutes for a better look. Literally!

After that, we were off to Napa and Sonoma Valley for 3 days of wine tasting. We stayed in the sweetest little modern B&B in the middle of no-where Sonoma Valley, complete with a breakfast chef, couples massages, and the coziest little fire pit. It was so peaceful that we never wanted to leave. Julie, the front desk employee, like us so much she gifted us a bottle of champagne for our anniversary. We're saving it for the next special occasion I'm allowed to taste it;)

We finished off our trip in San Francisco. We had gorgeous blue skies and sunshine for our final weekend. We visited the old island prison Alcatraz, and it was one of our favorite parts of being there. We boy did we walk. We saw the Painted Ladies, Haight Ashbury, The Coit Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, of course, and ate our way through the charming and hill-y city.

                                         _______________________________________


If there's one thing I've learned in this major transition season, it's this: My great need for Him every single day; and His great faithfulness to meet me, every single day.

"Relying on God has to begin again every day, as if nothing has yet been done." C. S. Lewis

I can't get this quote out of my head. It's how He made life. How He made us. To need Him every day. To come eat of the bread of life and to come drink the living water every single day. Not just once a week at church. But daily. He's our daily bread. It's His name, it's who He is.

I've never been more away of my needy-ness. It's painful and beautiful. And the amazing thing is He'll meet you exactly where you are, in that needy, messy, desperate place. He's there waiting, if we'll just come.

The next few months are full of a lot more crazy exciting things, so I'll try write again soon to keep you up-to-date.

Thanks for stopping by!



















Saturday, August 2, 2014

When everything is NEW


"Like faith and hope, trust cannot be self-generated. I cannot simply will myself to trust. What outrageous irony: the one thing I am responsible for throughout my life I cannot generate. The one thing I need to do I cannot do. But such is the meaning of radical dependence. What does lie within my power is paying attention to the faithfulness of Jesus. That's what I am asked to do: pay attention to Jesus throughout my journey, remembering his kindness. (Ps 103:2)." - Ruthless Trust

Change: to become different, undergo alteration. To undergo transformation or transition. To go from one phase to another, as the seasons.

Yep, that about sums up our life the past 3 months. (A brief recap for those who care to know more:)

Early-May: We finally have a move date, after 1.5 years of visiting our soon to be home Charleston and house hunting without success. This was a very big deal.

Mid-May: Still no house in sight, and at this point it felt like we had seen them all. We decided to take the 3 month temporary housing deal Lee's work offered. We thought it might be easier to find a house actually living in the city. 

Late-May: We find out we're expecting our first little baby and it's the best, most surreal moment we've ever experienced. We're thrilled but also extremely overwhelmed with literally every single area of our life changing. We also find out our move date has been moved up an entire week. Yikes!

Early-June: Lee travels to Asia for 2 weeks on work, and I fly to WA to see my family while he's gone.

Mid-June: I arrive back from WA with 10 days left until our move date. Lee follows 4 days later, giving us 1 week left in our beloved little 3rd Avenue apartment.

Late-June: We sorted through our stuff and put everything we would need the next 3 months in our dining room, and left the rest to the packers. I have never been so thankful for anything as I was for those movers/packers. They were lifesavers for this exhausted and overwhelmed expecting mama.

June 26th: We arrive at our new 'temporary home'. All our belongings were dropped off in a storage facility and we arrived with just our summer clothes, my 10 beloved house plants, and our pantry. It's nice, simple, this new place we call home. We've never seen it before this moment. It probably didn't help that we arrived at 12:30am. . . or maybe that was a good thing, for it looked nothing like the photos we saw of beautiful hardwood floors, 12 ft vaulted ceilings, 2 beautifully furnished bedrooms. The next 10 days are sort of a blur. Me, unpacking, exhausted, emotional. . . with headaches. These awful hormonal headaches had started and wouldn't stop. All day, all night, wake up with one, go to bed with one. I think by day 4 all I could do was lay on the couch while this vice grip squeezed the back of my head. My sweet husband rubbed my shoulders/neck every night during that stretch, and I will love him for it forever. Lee was adjusting to his new office and had a couple super busy work weeks right off the bat. Even Wally was exhausted, emotionally spent. If he wasn't hiding out from all the moving boxes I was unpacking, he was sleeping. He still thinks those boxes are monsters out to get him.

Change is a funny thing. When life is familiar, when you are comfortable, change sounds wonderful. Exciting. You welcome it, even hurry it. And then suddenly it's upon you. Newness. Transition. Everything different, uncomfortable, uncontrollable. And suddenly, it doesn't seem so wonderful. You feel more like going back to how things were a few weeks ago. You desperately try to find any bit of comfort that you can, any bit of home. This is especially hard to do when all our your 'home' and belongings are boxed away in storage. 

I think it was at this point that I realized how terrible I was at trusting. I used to think I was good at trusting, and maybe I was at a point. Life is comfortable. You feel in control. And you THINK you're trusting. But it isn't until everything you know is gone that you really find out where your trust lies. It's usually in myself. I'm a planner. I like to be in charge. Have a plan. Map out EVERY single detail. It's actually quite annoying (just ask my husband). But I've learned a whole lot these past 5 weeks.

Here's what I've discovered: 

1.) I hate not being in control. Like really hate it. 

2.) I'm an emotional roller coaster when I don't have a 10 month plan for my life mapped out and in writing. 

3.) Pregnancy is overwhelming, and makes you crazy. At least it feels like that some days. Ok, most days. 

4.) I cannot do this trusting thing on my own. I told my husband this the other night: I have never been more overwhelmed in every area of my life than I am right now. And I have never needed Jesus more, everyday, every moment, than I do right now. It's a painfully wonderful thing.

5.) God loves when we need him, when we're fully dependent. When we don't have a plan, and a back up plan for when that plan falls through. He loves being our plan. Even if we don't get to know all the details. It's ok. It doesn't mean His plan isn't good. His plan is ALWAYS good, even if it leaves you nervously wringing your hands together because it sure feels like he's running a bit behind schedule to you. I mean, God. . . we have 60 days before we have to be out of this apartment, and STILL have no house. Not worried? We have a baby due in January, have to be out of this apartment in 2 months, which is only 4 months before baby comes, and STILL have no house. Aren't you a little bit worried now? All our our stuff in in storage, and we haven't even started buying stuff for baby, let alone, renovating, painting, unpacking or setting up a new house. Still? Not even a tiny bit worried?

Yet another thing I've learned. He doesn't worry. Ever. He's never stressed out by our circumstances, no matter how daunting or impossible or worrisome they are to us. He is big and all of our big problems are small to him. Not small as in not important. The littlest thing that is a big deal to us, is a big deal to Him because he loves us. And He is a God of the details! But small, as in, He's already taken care of them. He knows the details of our life, and He doesn't miss a thing. Ever. Not one tiny detail. And all I have to do is pay attention to His faithfulness. When trusting is too hard, all I am asked to do is remember his kindness throughout my journey.

I've made it to my 2nd trimester and love having my energy back. I'm feeling more normal so-to-speak than I have in weeks. Life feels a little less scary and new now, and we've even made some friends. Every day I wake up, I ask God to give me His perspective. He is providing for us daily. We have shelter, food, jobs, and friends today, and I can say quite confidently, he will provide for ALL our needs tomorrow. My job is to "not worry about tomorrow" while I rest in his faithfulness today (yes, that's easier said than done).

So here's to embracing change, trusting just a little bit more today than I did yesterday, and paying attention to His faithfulness. 

Replace what you don't know about your future 
with what you do know about God.

"My child, you can trust the man who died for you. If you cannot trust him,
when whom can you trust?" -Streams in the Desert