Sunday, February 26, 2017

Almost Done!

I cannot believe our move is almost over! It has been such a long process. We've either been packing, showing our house, moving, looking at homes, or thinking about whether or not we should move, since last May. That is seriously insane. It's only by God's goodness that I did not completely lose my mind. Feeling like you have no clue where to put down roots feels a little like free-falling, and throughout that time I was reminded so often about the permanent reality God is, that eternity is. Here are couple sections in Hebrews 11 that I love...

Verse 10, in reference to Abraham, says "For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God."

And verses 13-16 say "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as is it, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be their God, for he has prepared for them a city."

These verses, and many more, forced me to consider the fleeting situation of house-hunting, both in perspective of my own life and of eternity. How much more glorious will it be to find the home we've been longing for our entire lives? And how much better will my death be when I change my perspective and seek to greet that day with joy and expectation, rather than fear of loss? I can only hope and pray for God to grant me the perspective that will enable me to face death with courage and excitement.

I know that might seem crazy to some of you, but our death truly is the day we find genuine freedom. However, that's not what this blog post is all about. I actually wanted to just give a house update!

We moved officially last Friday and need to be completely finished moving out of the old house by Tuesday. I don't think Mark or I have ever been so happy, excited, and grateful to move. Not just to end the cycle of searching, but because it really feels like home to us (as much as a house on earth can). The paint we chose was a bit more "cool" of a shade of grey than we thought, but once we put furniture in and stared to get a few things hung up on the walls, it looks completely fine. Yes, next time we'll err on the side of being too warm, but it really is lovely, and much better than the dark green that previously covered the walls.

Also, once we were getting all our furniture in place, we started noticing that the ceilings were a lot higher than we realized, and the area in general was a lot bigger than we thought! Let me tell you, after downsizing almost three years ago, then moving to a rental that was quite a big step down from our previous house, moving into this home has been quite a treat. We had only seen it dark, dirty, and vacant, so we didn't realize how big some of the rooms were, and we are so grateful for such a fabulous space.

I am totally planning to host fun events and parties at our house, so if you're local, invite yourself over sometime! We still have quite a bit of unpacking and organizing to do, but we're making good progress and I hope to have most of the house looking good before Asher's birthday coming up in March. I cannot wait to be able to spend time writing instead of packing, cleaning, and unpacking. Moving is always so much harder and so much more work than I remember (even though we just did it in August), and Mark and I both hope to stay in this place for a long time.

Now the good stuff, you want pictures right? Once it gets more cleaned up I will take some better pictures, but here are a few to give you an idea of what the last two weeks have looked like for us :)

Before anything really got moved in, it was hard to tell how much would fit in my homeschool area back there...

Um, yeah, a couch and table and chairs and bench... bigger than we thought!

That island counter is still cluttered, but it's getting cleaner every day.

Finding new places for all our art and decor!

The sport court has been the perfect place for Jovi to ride her tricycle and bike! All the kids love the backyard, and get this... turf! No mud = very happy mama on laundry days :)

We had issues with figuring out we needed to secure the washer's water tube and flooded the laundry room twice in one day. We ended up with super minimal damage, and I ended up blow drying the carpet here to get the rest of that moisture out. Fun times. 

Me conquering Con-tact paper... one of the few DIY projects I can handle.

The pantry transformation! It turned out so nice, I'm really glad I did this before we moved in. 

So there you have it, a tiny snapshot of my life the last week! Tell me you are going to visit? We are ready for a stellar year, where we can settle in, get invested in the people here, and enjoy opening our home for fellowship and fun. Thanks for peeking here into my life on the blog - come back later this week for another post. I know, two in one week?! I'm excited to be working more and more on my writing projects, and I hope you will benefit from them as well. Have a great week, and talk soon! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Funky Town.

In case you've watched Parenthood... no, that kind of funky town ;)

I have been in a bit of a writing funk lately. Actually, maybe just an overall funk.

Closing on the house got delayed... again. And again, and probably will one more time. But who really knows, because our brokers are not exactly being communicative anymore. Fun, right?

I had already scheduled the painters, given our rental agency a move-out date, hired movers for our really big stuff, and was going to call Stanley Steemer, but now I need to rearrange all of that. I've actually been waiting until the last-minute to initiate all our utilities for fear of closing getting delayed, and I'm super glad I did. Our signing date was going to put us in a pinch because of a High School event I need to attend in my hometown, but now we don't even know when signing will be, so we're waiting on that detail. And I'm trying really hard not to look at the house with too much longing. I know it's just a building, and I want my hope to be on Christ and His work, but this has still been a trying process.

In reality, this is all just regular life stuff. No terrible road bumps, no deaths in the family, no financial disaster (unless you count spending all our savings next week), no threat of my husband losing his job, no crises or drama that is completely out of the ordinary. Not for me at least, but there are many for which this week has been filled with far more uncertainty than I can imagine.

In all of the recent drama with Trump's executive orders I have been forced me to look more closely at the lives of refugees and immigrants around the world. My housing troubles seem very small in comparison to the lives many of these people are enduring. I don't even enjoying hiking with my kids sometimes, because they whine and bicker over the course of one or two miles. I cannot imagine endless hours of walking through dangerous territories, or on over-filled life-rafts, or wandering aimlessly through packed tent cities. And this is just a small area of the world, not including the villages, cities, and countries enduring massive poverty and danger on a regular basis. It is heart-breaking, eye-opening, and humbling.

I read a really great article by David Platt about the way Christians should respond, and I think you will benefit from reading it too. If you are not a Christian, I hope you will still read it and see that this is the heart of Jesus, the desire of God - the protect, offer refuge, and give hope.

I am sharing all of these things for a couple reasons. I want you to be updated with our house-stuff. For some reason, a bunch of you are interested in it ;) I also want you to consider your responses to those you witness enduring hardship. Are you cold, uninterested in what you can do for others? Or are you compassionate, but possibly lacking ideas on how to participate in helping those in need? Or maybe you are already actively serving, helping, meeting needs to those less fortunate. In every circumstance, difficult or easy, I think J.F.K.'s quote seems very appropriate: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

I know there are extremely varied opinions about what is best for our country, but we can all look at our family, our friends, and our neighbors, and ask what is best for each of them. Jesus did not look at what was best for himself, but what was best for those around him, for us. If we can take our eyes off our own troubles and can serve those around us with a genuine interest in their well-being, our country will be transformed, person by person, neighborhood by neighborhood. It's too easy to wallow in the challenges we face, but the world needs us to take our eyes off ourselves and get to the hard work of serving each other.

Witnessing all of this uncertainty, both in my own life and seeing it in the lives of others, I am learning how little I actually need to know in order to be an agent of love. It's easy to think we need to figure things out and wrap our minds around everything going on in order to be of use, but it simply isn't true. Loving and serving are effective tools in creating relationship, being a positive impact, and making the world a better place. While our words can be lasting and powerful, our actions are proof of those words. They confirm the words we speak (or type) are true.

As you go about your week, I hope you'll consider the correlation between your words and your works. I hope that for every time you think about your own problems, you are praying for the problems of others. I hope your days are not filled with self-consumption, but investment in the people around you. While history often only highlights people of prominence, it is the individual people of our world who make our lives better, and if we are busy making the lives of other people great, our world will be great as well. Check in with your kids, your spouse, your friends, and your co-workes - see what you can do to make their lives better, not for the sake of being a great person, but for the sake of showing the greatness of genuine love.