Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Jesus. My Savior. My God. He's a God of details.

My heart is bursting with thanksgiving today, and I just can't keep it to myself. It's the week of Easter, and I feel it is so important to reflect about the goodness of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know a lot of people do not believe in God, but my question is always how can you not believe in God? I figured it might be a good time to reflect on God's grace, goodness, and mercy with Easter coming on Sunday. I'm going to go back in time a bit and show you some of the details that are simply amazing to my family. This blog is a bit random because I have so many thoughts in my head. I do apologize if I don't follow things clearly.
  • 2006--We make a decision for my husband to return to school and rely mostly on my income.
  • 2008--I receive a position at a simply wonderful school that I take out of the blue.
  • 2009--I go back to school for my master's degree. I find out that I am pregnant with Micah.
  • 2010--I have Micah, and I pray fervently to stay home with my son. My husband has now been without full time employment for four long years. By the grace of God, I am able to stay home for almost a year with our son. I graduate from Arkansas State University with my Masters in Educational Theory and Practice.
  • Early 2011--A check shows up in the mail covering the rest of my time off for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year. It blows us away, but it covers three months of my salary. I stay home with Micah very happily until August 2011.
  • 2011--I return to work heavy hearted, but I am aware that the Lord has a plan for our life. I'm exactly where I am meant to be, and we feel confident (though not always happy) with my decision to work. We continue to pray for God's blessings financially as we seek to pay off our debt.
  • 2012--My husband received a letter in the mail the week of Easter stating his loans were PAID IN FULL. This leaves us (basically) debt free except for our house. A month later? My husband is given his first full time job in almost five years. We are shocked by both blessings. Suddenly, we have an income where there has been none for five years. We also have no loans to pay. It was crazy ridiculous.
  • Late in 2012, we feel God is calling us to move. However, we are still living in our current home. Stepping out on faith (and most people thinking we are totally crazy), we begin to look for a home that will fit our longterm needs. Our desires were: schools, proximity to our jobs, proximity to family, bigger house, smaller payment then we currently have for any future possibilities that a change occurs with one of our jobs.
  • We know all that is crazy. There is no way to upgrade your house with a smaller payment than your 2005 purchase. Impossible. Well...four houses later...we found "the house" and the wheels are set in motion.
  • 2013--We close (narrowly) on our new house. We had a specific loan under specific circumstances that we were looking at obtaining due to the mortgage payment and down payment. Do you know how close we came to losing that loan? $85. Thankfully, the $85 showed up in an unexpected way!! It sounds crazy because we qualified for many other loans, but if we had any other loan...many things would go UP in our monthly finances. Our entire goal was to have our expenses go DOWN. This is in case one day I could possibly stay home with Micah or in case something happens to C's job. We are very frugal people, and we just like to live on what we make or less. 
  • January 2013--We attend a meeting about a mission trip to South Dakota. I desperately want to go on this trip. In many ways, my heart is still out in the western United States. I spent a couple of summers in Montana, I took a mission trip to Arizona, and I grew up with my parents traveling out west ministering to the people out there. C tells me, "We can't go if we have two houses. The deadline is March 31st. We will pray that God will sell our house by March 31st. If he does, we will go." We start to pray that prayer.
  • March 2013--We closed on our new home, and we started the major undertaking to list our current home. I'm a nervous wreck about the possibility of TWO mortgage payments, but C is steady as a rock. "God has brought us this far, He's going to sell our house quickly." 
  • March 2013--Home is listed & contract on it within six days. The contract is presented on March 28th--just days before the mission trip deadline.
  • April 2013 (Lord willing)--We hope to close on our former home four days before our payment on our new home is due.
God is a God of details.

Two things I noticed about the last two years--

1. This time last year we received a letter in the mail stating that C's loans had been paid in full. This happened on the Thursday of Holy Week, the day before Good Friday.
2. This year, we received word on Thursday of Holy Week, the day before Good Friday, that our house was under contract.

God is a God of details.

While pondering all these things throughout this Holy Week, I had some other things going on. One of my friends from college, Will Gray, is very near death in a hospital in LA, California, suffering from cancer that has simply overtaken his body. I have been going back and forth between "Why?" and "Why not?" I'm not really sure why God chooses to do the things He does in this life. Why am I so blessed, but someone else was born an orphan?

I am praying fervently that Will is not going to die, and I have hope that the Great Physician can heal him. After all, look at all the wonderful things the Lord has done in my own life? I couldn't not have fathomed the blessings He has given me!! Who's to say He won't heal Will?

I posed this question to my husband as I cried over Will one night this week, and C replied, "I think you have it all wrong. It hurts when we lose someone. However, maybe they are the one truly blessed? God has chosen them to come home first. We are still stuck in a world full of sin. We feel like we are blessed because of our good health, but maybe...just maybe...the person with the worst circumstance in our eyes has the best circumstance of all."

This Easter, I'm sitting at home because I also ended up in the ER last night with a staph infection. I'm home this morning, but I'm well aware of how many different, difficult situations are going on in the world. I know that I am saved. I know my friend Will is saved. I know Jesus has done incredible things for my family. While I ponder these questions and thoughts this morning, I am still thankful that Jesus died and rose again for me. I'm not quite sure what everything means in this life, but I'm thankful for knowing I am His.

Happy Easter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's an Instagram kind of life. Updates via Instagram.

You look up, and suddenly realize that a week has flown by again! It's gone in an instant. For today's post, I figured I'd just share some Instagram moments from the last week.

Micah after school one day enjoying his personal recliner, milk, and some Curious George.

It's really hard to see, but to the right of that bird feeder? We saw a bunny rabbit hopping over at my mom's house on Friday night! I have never seen a bunny in the wild. Yes, I am very city-fied.

We have spent a good bit of time staging our old home in prep for its first weekend on the market. I snapped a few pictures on my phone to show the fruits of our labor. It's been a long two weeks with two houses, but we have had two showings in three days. That encourages me greatly! Let's just hope this house sells quickly.

My former master bedroom staged for real estate pictures.

My former living room staged for real estate pictures.

Here is a PicStitch of our house prepped and ready for sale.

Speaking of which, we've had three showings in about four days. We got an offer on it today, and we're currently praying through it. We sent a counter back, and we are praying for a response quickly. If so, we'll be closing on this house April 29th.

Every day, I look back and think, "He looks huge!!" I just thought I'd take a picture of it as I thought it.

Micah has been very sick again this week with more fever, snotty nose, wheezing, sinus junk. We spent Saturday morning at the doctor's office.

How big does my boy look here? I promise you, if he weren't holding his bear, I would say he's going on 19.

My drive to work has been awesome since moving to our new house. I have a ten minute commute (I KNOW!) and my hubs has a 20 minute commute (down from 45+). Our church commute? Wednesday nights it is bumper to bumper then entire measly ten miles. It took me 30 minutes! Oh, well. Not everything in life can be easy.

Saturday morning after getting the all clear--ahem--from the doctor, we headed to our connection class family Easter meal and egg hunt. Micah was still not acting like himself, but assured he wasn't contagious and it was allergies--we forged on. This year it was really fun to watch him actually understand how to hunt eggs. Here he is finding his first egg with Jaxson.

Micah & his friend Finn. They are birthday buddies--as in, they are only a couple of weeks apart in age. I met Finn's mama while I was off for a year with Micah.

Micah loved the sewer for some reason! Haha!

The Easter egg hunt took place at a really nice mansion like place in East Memphis that a  class member had some connections to through her dad. It was an awesome location!

This is Micah and his little friend Ellie. They are very close in age, and they have a lot of fun playing together! =) This was the best shot that I could get of the two of them together.

As I suspected, even though we were sent home with "allergies" on Saturday, Micah faded fast at the Easter egg hunt. We decided to go ahead home early, and sure enough...I ended up home with a very sick, feverish child on Tuesday. We watched way, way too much television, spent some time playing in his very bare playroom (to be furnished at some point), and played some in his room. I set up his tent, which he calls his "howse" in the playroom. 

He loved watching the iPad in his howse for a while. He now asked to go in the playroom to see his "howse" all the time. Just imagine his surprise when I open up the rest of his Christmas toys that I have squirreled away. We didn't have any room for all the crazy amounts of toys he received between his birthday and Christmas, and this playroom will be full soon enough.
Because of the layout of our lot, the best view of the pool is from the side of the house! Haha! The playroom has a fun view of our wooded pool lot.

Well, that is our week. I've been in deep prayer about a friend of mine from college who is currently fighting for his life against cancer. His name is Will, and he is an incredibly talented musician that I had the chance to spent lots of time with in college. At any rate, will you pray for my friend Will? You can find more about his story here. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Love your neighbors as yourself has never been quite so literal.

I figured that this could be a post all by itself, but I have to tell you...our neighbors? What a first week in our house it was! So push up a chair, sit a spell, and listen to an entirely funny story if you have the time. I promise you, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. I wanted to record it so that it's a funny story for over the years of our first week in the house. Check back later this week for a post with some pics covering our weekend.

We moved into our new home in an established neighborhood outside of Memphis almost three weekends ago. It's an older neighborhood full of trees, varying one and two-story homes, and quiet coves. We were charmed by the walkability of the area to shops, grocery stores, and parks. In two minutes, I can be just about anywhere by car, and most of the shops are about a 2 mile walk from our house. (Sound crazy? Remember, I'm a runner so I don't mind a 1-2 mile walk for some ice cream.) We also fell in love with the respective location to our jobs. It is an older part of town, and it is known for having older people living here. However, younger folks are slowly coming in and revitalizing the neighborhood and renovating the houses back to their former glory. The schools in this area are top notch, so that was a big draw for us.

At any rate, on the second night we were living in the house, a car pulled up in the cove with an older couple who rolled down their window. In all likelihood, they were trying to be nice, introduce themselves, and welcome us to the neighborhood. However, they went about it in an interesting manner.

Old couple: Welcome to the neighborhood!
Us: Why thanks!
Old couple: So, are you renting or buying this house?
Us: Um...we bought it.
Old couple: Thank goodness! We are so tired of renters!
Us: Nope, nope, we bought it.
Old couple: Well, welcome to the neighborhood!
Us: Thanks. So more oddities were exchanged between the two of us which also included, but was not limited to:

Old couple: I'm so glad you got them to do something about that rotten attic window. I've called Mr. F for years as I watched it rot away.

What I thought, but didn't say:
Seriously? You called a landlord on a rotten window that you didn't own?

Old couple: When you were negotiating, why didn't you have them do anything about all the rotten wood on the outside of the house. I hope you are going to do something about that.

What I thought, but didn't say:
Seriously? Who are you people, and why are you bugging me about my house?

That was Day 1 of neighbor visits.  Day 2 of neighbor visits brought "the neighborhood watchdog" (as quoted by the first couple from the day before) by our home. This is where it gets a bit more bizzarre. "Mildred" (as we will lovingly call her) actually lives two house down from us. However, when I first met Mildred, she was coming out from behind my next door neighbor's backyard into our driveway. Did you read that? She was coming out from behind the backyard of someone else's house. I, of course, thought that she was our next door neighbor. I mean, she was coming out from behind the backyard of our next door neighbor's house! It's totally normal for the neighbor two doors down to appear from the backyard in your driveway from a house that isn't theirs.

Was I out in my garage? Oh, nope. I was actually with my mother-in-law backing down the driveway in my car trying to leave.

Apparently, she was on an agenda because she flagged us down. Not just a little wave, but Mildred flagged us down and followed us down the driveway until I got out of the car.

First, she went on to introduce herself, and she gave us some phone numbers of all the neighbors. (Ok, that's really nice of her. It is.)  Then she proceeded to tell me that my recycling can was full of garbage. The city of ______ does not accept garbage in a recycling can. Also, trash day is on Thursdays, and she'd be glad to come help me with my trash. Also, there is a major drainage issue with our driveway that we will probably have to address. She's actually cleaned out the French drain on more than one occasion, but it was up to us now. Also, welcome to the neighborhood! Dealing with Mr. F (the landlord) was quite the task. We are so glad to be rid of him.

I realize she is trying to be nice, but why do you know what is in my recycling can? Also, why did you come around the neighbor's backyard that isn't even yours to accost me in my driveway as I'm leaving?

Now, if you are still with me and reading this story...bless you. I'm telling you, it gets better. Am I the only one who thinks this is all slightly strange and/or borderline rude??

Day three of neighbor visits came as our actual next door neighbor (who we'll lovingly call Soldierette) came to the house. She sure did know how to make an entrance because Soldierette didn't wait for us to be out in our yard. No, sir. She came over the day after trash day in the evening, and she rang the doorbell multiple times. Not once, but multiple times.

When I finally opened up the door (because I'm pretty sure if I don't answer the first time it isn't an invitation to keep reringing my bell), I was greeted with a sour expression.

Me (holding the door partially open and partially closed so as not to invite her inside): Hello.
Soldierette: Hello. Welcome to the neighborhood. My name is Soldierette, and I live next door.
Me: Nice to meet you!
Soldierette: I'm not really sure if you noticed, but yesterday? Your garbage can was on my grass.
Me: Oh.
Soldierette: In fact, I don't really want to be that neighbor, but I must tell you that technically you were on my property line.
Me: Oh. I see.
Soldierette: It has taken me ten years to get the grass to come in, so I really can't have you ruining it.
Me: Oh, well, you know...the other side of our driveway is quite a hill, so I wanted our garbage can somewhere flat.
Soldierette: Sometimes the claw from the truck digs up my grass. I want you to put your can on the other side next time.
Me: Well, you know, I haven't made any firm decisions on where to place my trashcans, but I will take that under consideration.
Soldierette: Also, did you buy this house?
Me: Yes, we did.
Soldierette: You realize there is still a for sale sign in the front yard.
Me: Well, ma'am, I don't really have much to do with the removal of another company's sign. (I'm starting to get really irritated by this point.)
Soldierette: Oh, I just figured you knew. Also?
Me (with an edge in my voice I'm sure): Yes?
Soldierette: There is a drainage problem between our driveways.
Me: I'm aware.
Soldierette: You'll probably need to fix it.
Me: Thank you. We will work on things as we see fit. Thanks for making me aware.
Soldierette: I also want you to know that the renters left their trash cans out where we could all see them. As you know, no one likes to look at another person's garbage. Perhaps you can keep it in the garage?
Me: We have a baby which means diapers. I highly doubt I'll keep the garbage in the garage. We'll make that decision about our trash cans later when we are actually unpacked. Thanks for your opinion, though.
Soldierette: Ok, well...nice to meet you then.
Me: Nice to meet you, too.

The nerve. Can you believe that? Anyway, it was funny and annoying at the same time.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We've moved! Spring break & other updates.

Moving Day, March 9, 2013

It's now official! We have moved into our new house, and that is why I've been absent in blogland for a while. We spent our entire spring break doing not fun things like moving boxes, unpacking, and prepping our old house to go on the market this Wednesday. We're hopeful it will sell fast, but I'm just not sure. You never know how the real estate market will work. Please pray and think happy, selling thoughts! We signed a contract with a real estate agent yesterday for six months to sell our home. The thought of waiting six months for this house to sell kind of makes my stomach turn, but I know it is all in God's hands.

We officially moved in on Saturday, March 9th after closing on Thursday, March 7th. Mr. C began packing up the house and moving some boxes that Friday, March 8. We rented a U-Haul for two days over the weekend of March 9-10. It basically killed us trying to get everything done that weekend, but Mr. C wasn't given any time off that he requested (the entire week of my spring break). He got one day off work, so we had to crank it out. Thankfully, we had several friends (George & Stephanie, Gene) and our parents help us. Our sisters both took turns taking care of Micah so he got a lot of cousin time.

I posted this on Instagram, but I have highly enjoyed spending the evenings out by the pool after Micah went to bed this week. It's almost like having your own fountain or water feature. It is so peaceful! I'm hoping for some nice quiet times pool side. We have a lot of work to do to make it really nice, but the potential is why we bought the place. 

In addition to several friends helping us move this past week, we have spent most of our spare time in the middle of the week fixing up our old home. There was a lot of painting to do and simple fixes. We basically had to take shifts with Micah while one of us worked on the house. Usually, C slept in the morning, and I worked until Micah's nap time. Graciously several friends kept Micah throughout the week since my mom (aka main childcare) was out of town on business. We're so thankful to Kristy & Beth for taking time to watch our Little Man. Beth took some pictures of Ellie & Micah eating lunch.

This was my favorite picture of Micah & Ellie. Beth said it looked like they were on a bad teenage date. One on the cell phone while the girl chatted away. =)

They even had some craft time! So thankful for our sweet friends from our Sunday school class. I'm not sure we could have done much this week without help from friends and family.

Micah enjoyed the tv when the internet guy finally came so we could have some Netflix. 

I enjoyed some coffee every morning from my little table overlooking the wooded view of our small backyard. I'm having the trees around! Other things we are getting used to? 

The constant train whistle in the background at various times.
The fridge that is stuck in our garage since we can't fit it inside our older home. (Still not sure what we're doing about that.)
The laundry taking forever to dry since it vents out through the roof of the house instead of directly outside.
Crazy, old lady neighbors (story to be told on another post).
Pool maintenance & our lack of knowledge anything pool related.

I spent a whole lot of time unpacking at the house. Here's a sneak peek of Micah's two closets in his bedroom! One is the "toy closet" and the other is the "clothing closet". Let's just say, Mama is in heaven. Hope he doesn't end up with a sister one day because I'm sure she's going to commandeer this room from him.

Micah also enjoyed trying to get down the stairs. We have him tripled gated into the upstairs (baby gate on his door, baby gate at the top of the stairs, and baby gate at the bottom of the stairs). It is a crazy amount of baby gates!

A humongous thank you to my mother-in-law, Renee, my Mama, my sister-in-law ,Courtney, and my sister, Keren, for helping me so much during this process! Each lady has countlessly watched Micah while I got things done alone. We've moved before, but I tell you! Moving with a toddler is a feat in itself. They helped do laundry, clean, pack, unpack, stage my house, move boxes, cook meals, and countless other things. I'm so thankful for them!! Bless my sweet Mom's heart, because she got back from a business trip only to spend her entire weekend helping me stage, prep, and paint my other house. I'm so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life!! Love y'all!

Monday, March 4, 2013


I wrote this last Tuesday when I was at my wits end about everything going on right now. I figured I could still post it even if it is--oh, almost the next Tuesday!

Today (Tuesday) I stayed home from school because I have basically worried myself into a frenzy. I made myself sick. At least, I think I made myself sick, although I could have a very well timed stomach virus that coincided accidentally with everything going on in our lives.

Today (Tuesday) I am frustrated. I am on my knees waiting for God's every last move. There have been a lot of ups and downs in this house process. I'm just ready for it to be over! This time next week, we'll be preparing to close on our house and move. We got to a point where I was getting comfortable thinking all things are a done deal. My husband said today, "Maybe God is just trying to show us that he's still God. Down to the last minute. Down to the final penny. Down to the very moment of closing. God is a God of details.  He still wants us on our knees praying every second even when we feel this is sovereignly ordained by Him."

What words of wisdom! I love my hubby so much!

Today I am tired. I am tired because we have so much on our plates right now. There are days that being a working mom is just exhausting. It's so hard to balance work, home, quiet times, husband, and schedules. It's just hard. Some days I love it; other days I hate it. Today is a mixed day.

Today I look forward with anticipation to the future. I have no idea what it will look like. There is so much ahead of us (potentially) that could go wrong or could go right. We just have to trust God.

Today (Friday), we have some details on the house that have completely worked themselves out only to be given another list of things to "prove" or "show" or "provide" to the bank. I'm telling you! It's a process buying a house! I'm excited to go look at the house again this afternoon as we do a walk through of work that has been completed.

Today (the real today--as in, Monday), I'm overwhelmed by the amount of packing that needs to be done. I'm not really sure how it will all get accomplished, but somehow. It will.

Today I realized there is a fine line between being someone's child's teacher and them being your loan agent. Let's just say one of my parents (of my children in my class) is getting our loan for us. He's been great, but through this process...he's started to see how easily I stress out. I'm not sure I ever want anyone else (other than C & family) to see that side of me. I told him today, "Now you see how I can keep 21 kids on track." He laughed. He probably now thinks I'm officially crazy. He's very nice, though. He even went to one of our banks for us to finish off some documents that I'm having trouble trying to pick up since I work at a late school. Maybe it does pay to teach someone's kid?

In three days, I'll have the keys to our house. A whole lot of moving later, and a week off from work will finally feel like freedom to me. We started this process so long ago. I'm just ready to be done. =)