Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Why Me?" - Age-Old Question with an Ancient of Days Answer

I have read "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen so many times that now I only listen to my favorite chapters on Kyle's ipod (he downloaded if for me so I would stop listening to the CDs in the CD player in the living room).  Now, this could be called an obsession, but since it is classical literature, I get to call it "being cultured".  And every time I read it or watch a movie version of the story, I am always baffled by how many times Lizzy is proposed to by men she doesn't want, and yet poor Jane and Charlotte wait and wait... and Charlotte just settles for one of Lizzie's rejections.  If I were Jane or Charlotte, when Lizzy would complain about being proposed to by men she can't stand, I know I would be tempted to think "At least someone wants you - why doesn't someone want me?"

It always makes me think of how some have so much of what someone else pines for... doesn't the world seem so imbalanced at times?  Why do some have several children while others can't conceive?  Why are some so lazy and wealthy while some work so hard to still be poor?  Why do some of my students get so spoiled rotten by their parents, while others get horribly neglected?  Why does the girl who wants to get married and have babies watch all her friends marry before she does?  That was my story, for sure, and I always asked "Why me?"

A little over a year ago, my father was in an accident while cutting down a dead tree.  As he was cutting, the tree twisted and started to fall, although he couldn't see in what direction.  He dropped his chainsaw and ran, unfortunately in the direction the tree fell.  It struck him from behind, and he landed on his face on the ground.  He suffered brain bleeding and swelling and so many fractures to his skull that they couldn't be counted...  And yet, my father is alive and well today.  You'd never know by meeting him that he had been through something so severe.

I can't tell you how many stories I have heard since from people who have had friends or family go through similar experiences with a much different outcome.  My mother recently spent time with a friend who lost her husband in a falling-tree accident, and how strange for two women to experience the same thing, yet one has her husband tonight while another does not.

When my mother told me about the pain her friend is going through, in my mind I tried to picture both women as they sat side-by-side and thought that either one could easily ask "Why me?"

Why does one lose a husband while the other only lost some sick days at work while her husband healed?

"Why me?" is a question that has been asked, I'm sure, as long as time on earth has been enjoyed or merely survived...

"Why am I the one who suffers?"

"Why am I the one who is blessed?"

And unfortunately, I rarely ask the second version of the question.  I am too vain, selfish, and jealous.  I envy others with things I want, things I may even think I need... I ask "Why me?"

Wouldn't it be just as easy for God to sell my house as He has for so many others I know?  Wouldn't it be just as easy for Him to drop a part-time job in my lap like He has done before?

But I'm sure there is someone, somewhere... and probably not as far away as I think that would look at my life and think, "Where is my loving husband?", "Why can't I get pregnant so easily?", "Why is my father dead, while hers is completely recovered?"...

"Why me?"

When one sister comes back from the hospital with ultrasound pictures of her first child while another sister is admitted into the hospital for another miscarriage... both could easily ask "Why me?"

"Why am I so blessed?"

"Why am I in so much pain?"

When one person must learn how to be content while another gets everything she desired.

When one child easily makes an A every time while the other struggles just to read and understand directions.

When a young man strikes it rich with an invention while another man is laid off after working at the same company for 27 years.

"Why me?"

I can't pretend to understand any of this either.  Even in scripture in places where it says, "God makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust."

What?!  Why does God allow wicked and unjust people to enjoy sunshine?  Why do their crops also get rain?  Why don't they get the tornadoes while the good enjoy good weather and years of plenty?

The answer is so simple, but not easily understood.  Because in order to understand the answer, we have to understand God in His fullness... which we never could - at least not here on earth... but here is my attempt at understanding Him enough myself in order to explain Him... yeah, right.  Here it goes...

God is good.  Not just sometimes, but always.  And not just the kind of good that we settle for when describing ourselves.  God isn't good only when he compares Himself to others, although He is, but He also is the very definition, the essence, of true, pure goodness.  And He is always constant in His goodness, not just when He "feels like being or doing good".

God is also wise.  Not just a shallow wisdom, like you or I may have.  It isn't because He has experienced something and learned from it... He always knew and displayed wisdom.  And He still does.  He knows everything.  Not just like the stats or data of everything, but he KNOWS the depths, the everything about everything.  He understands everything He knows about.  He knows about everything unknown to anyone else.

God is also in control.  Now, this is probably the hardest part to be okay with as humans.  Yes, God has plans.  The Bible says that the plans are for our good AND for His glory.  And all of His plans get carried out.  Remember He is also good and wise, while He is also in control...  This also means that He can be in control without being controlling.

Now, I'm not sure that is easily explained, but it definitely is easily appreciated.  While He is powerful and sovereign so much that "in Him all things hold together", He is good and loving to allow us to make choices and be responsible for our lives... instead of being robots.

And SO many things in this world are a result of sin.  We live in a fallen world.  "Fallen" in the sense that it is not as it once was or was intended to be.  Sin has tainted so much of our world that it is impossible to imagine what the Garden of Eden must have really been like.  My instant reaction to hearing God is in control is, "If God is in control, why do people still sin?  Why do people still hurt?  Why do bad things still happen?"  And the simple answer is "sin".  Through sin, death and pain entered the world.  And it remains.  So does sin.

But it won't always remain.  There is an ultimate end for sin and death, and it is found in this great God.

And not everything is a direct result of our own sin.  Just as God allows the sun to shine on the wicked, the "good" suffer common hardships with the wicked.  If my father lives, it isn't because I have sinned less than someone else.  And if someone's father dies, it doesn't mean they have sinned more than me.

Because God is merciful and gracious.  While there is consequence of our sin overall - like eternity separated from Him in Hell, there isn't a one-to-one ratio for every wrong we do.  In fact, if I think of all the wrongs I have caused and compare that to how many wrongs I have suffered... I realize how incredibly blessed I am.  I realized how much more suffering I deserve.

And that isn't all... that is just scratching the surface of what He is and who He is... I could dig and chisel and shovel for the rest of my life at how awesome He is, and I'll never comprehend all of Him.

But the more I find out who He is, the more I realize I want to be more like Him and less like me.  I learn how good He has been to me, and He completely changes my perspective on things.

I know how much of a victim I am NOT when I see all that He has done for me.  When I look at others who have what I want, and even think I need, and want to say "Why me?", I am challenged to look at those who don't have what I do and think "Why me?" again.

Why would He forgive me?  Save me?  Heal me?  Restore my father's health?  Give me a loving husband?  Allow me to get pregnant so easily - twice?  Feed me?  Clothe me?  Warm my winter with sunshine?  Cool my summer with rain?  Love me?  Sing over me?  Give me rest?  Peace?  Comfort?  Strength?

And not just for today, but hope for tomorrow?

"Not because of who I am, but because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done, but because of who You are." - Casting Crowns

He has been good to me because He wants to be good to us.  And His goodness makes me want to tell others about Him.  His kindness makes me want to be kind.  And sometimes we can only know what goodness is when we have first seen what evil or sorrow is.  Sometimes I am so stubborn that I will not see His love until I have felt the hate of an enemy.  And how many lessons have I learned the hard way that wouldn't have been learned the easy one?  How could miracles happen, if there was never a need for one?

And an enemy I want to fight off for good is my flesh that cries out "Why me?" in self-pity or pain but never thinks to cry out "Why me?" when He lavishes on me so much good that I don't deserve.

I don't understand it all, probably not even most of it, but I am thankful to Him.  That I do know.  I don't have all of the answers, and sometimes I ask Him all the wrong questions!

"Why me?" is something I may never know.  And in light of who He is, "Why me?" matters less and less...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 14th - Financial Fast February Halftime... oh and Valentine's Day

According to my newsfeed on Facebook, most people I know woke up on February 14th feeling slightly more romantic and generally "in love" with life!  I, too, woke up with a sense of loving ambition.  I made my daughter a pancake and a fried egg, both in the shape of a heart and served them with strawberry milk.  She gave her Daddy a self-made Valentine, opened a gift from her great-grandma, and opened several cards that came in the mail for her.  We all kissed goodbye and swooshed ourselves out the door - Emersyn had her hand-made Valentines in her bag for her babysitter and friends, and my bag was full of punch ingredients for my class' afternoon party.

But what I was really thinking about that day, more than the general good will of everyone at work, the dozen roses a student brought me, and the 8 boxes of chocolates I brought home as other gifts from students...was that the 14th of February is halfway through the month - the financial-fasting month!

Knowing that we are halfway through February is both a delightful and depressing thought.  Knowing that we have made it 2 full weeks without paying for convenience and seeing how much we can do without, we are definitely learning how much we think we NEED just isn't true!  And we even went on a day-long date last weekend on gift cards left over from Christmas!  We saw a movie, registered at BUY BUY BABY for Keegan, and ate seafood and cheesecake!  And our free sitters, my parents, were gracious to keep Emersyn for 2 days!

In the past week, we have also been blessed by little and big freebies!  I collected Valentine cards off the back of our Little Debbie's boxes.  We have been blessed to have a garage door donated from someone who was replacing his.  And when we learned that in order to enclose our carport as a garage, we would have to move our gas meter out of there, a friend volunteered to do part of the work free of charge.  Of course, we have money set aside for things needing to be done to the house, but the dear young man said he had been reading my blog and wanted to help out.  I, of course, was humiliated at first!  I always am when someone wants to help me.  I am so prideful at times, but I was also instantly nervous that perhaps people would think this blog was a way of asking for handouts.  I hope that isn't what this young man thought, or what anyone has been thinking.  My blog is just about us being transparent with our lives, and part of our lives right now is seeing how much self-control we can have in our spending.  I think anyone who knows me, knows that I don't like asking for help, and I am completely against manipulating people into doing things for me.

But I also need to remember that pride comes before a fall, and I have fallen many times in the past because I refused to take or ask for someone else's help.  So, I am learning to be thankful for coupons, free Valentine's on the back of Little Debbie's, someone else's junk being my treasure, and someone offering a free service to bless us.  I forget so often that God often chooses to correct us, encourage us, and bless us through others.  I don't mind doing that for others, so why should I be so puffed up as to be above what God has chosen to use in my life?!  It had just never occurred to me that by letting others know what challenges we face that someone would try to help us meet those challenges, and I hope it is clear that was never my intention.... and I pray it never would be... unless it was in the form of a house-buyer, heeheehee :)

These blessings and lessons have made this learning process so worth it, and I have been so proud of us.  I have been especially grateful that on days I feel run down and like my mind is gone, I have still been able to find motivation to cook dinner every night!  I even attempted Chicken Fried Steak last night from scratch!  And it was delicious, thank you very much Pioneer Woman (my first attempt at one of her recipes).  And I am appreciative that my husband has been coming home to eat during lunch breaks, when I know his coworkers are probably still going out just as often.

But just as great as all of that has been, I was also tempted to open every box of chocolates handed to me throughout Valentine's Day to devour them all with just the thought that we were only halfway - HALF WAY - through the month!  The thought called for a pint of Ben&Jerry's at least, if not also a large pasta dish from a restaurant, but thankfully, I didn't spend money on any of that, nor did I empty all the boxes of chocolates.  Not yet, anyway :)  But perhaps it really isn't the lack of spending money or lack of buying convenience that has me a little down in the dumps with this thought.  It is also the keeping our house sparkling clean and uncluttered every morning before leaving for work, just in case someone comes by to look at it.  I hate housework a lot more than I do not eating Italian food out, but thankfully I have a helpful husband, a mostly obedient daughter who helps pick up toys, and now a whole new batch of sweets to get me through due to the generosity of my students and their parents on Valentine's Day!

And just when my attitude was souring badly about all I've had to do, I was gently reminded about doing all things for the glory of God - everything, whether I am cooking, eating, cleaning, and even in waiting!

As a planner and "get it done" kind of person, waiting isn't, nor has it ever been, my forte.  Waiting for March 1st to come.  Waiting for someone to want to buy my house.  Waiting for the money to buy the house I want.  Waiting for the day when I can have the college students over without having to ask another couple if we can invade their home.  Waiting to find out about some part-time job possibilities for August.  Waiting for this baby to come... all of it equals learning.

So, the strong-willed version of myself wants to tell the big baby side of me to "Suck it up!"  I mean, February is over in 2 weeks - what is 2 weeks?!  Really?!  The house has only been on the market with the right price and the right square footage on the website for 2 days, and everyone who has seen a picture or come in has been impressed with how spacious it is on the inside, despite the small look of the exterior.  The Crosses have also been so generous to allow the college students to invade their home every Wednesday this semester, and we have all been blessed by it!  It is only February, and my goal of having a job lined up by April is still quite a ways off.  And there is no point in rushing this baby to come soon, since he needs more time to develop.  We also haven't made a space for him or even stocked up on a week's worth of clothing!

Waiting is a great discipline to learn.  And true learning is done hands-on and over time!

So this morning, post-Valentine's Day, we got up early and gave the house another thorough cleaning.  I borrowed a steam-cleaner and did all the original hardwood floors.  Kyle was a whirlwind, cleaning, decluttering, and doing dishes.  Emersyn watched a movie on the couch, and the poor child got reminded to stay put any time she let one of her feet hit the floor.  A man was coming to make a video for the house's online listing, and we finished cleaning much earlier than we thought we would.  So we bundled up and headed outside to play in the backyard!  Kyle raked leaves while Emersyn "played Mulan".  I just sat there, thinking, waiting.  I was pretty excited that Emersyn was content to finally be outside and off the couch for 2 hours.  But after all that time, the guy coming to film still hadn't arrived, and Emersyn started to ask for movies and food... so I broke down and drove us to McDonald's for food for her, a Dr. Pepper for me, and further distraction to preserve the cleanliness of the house...  And wouldn't you know that as soon as she got her shoes off to play in the playcenter, Kyle called to say that the video guy was finished and leaving.  Of course that would happen, because I just spent 8 dollars on food and soda, when I had promised myself that I wouldn't!  Another 20 minutes of waiting would have spared us the trip!

Oh well, we came home refreshed by our outing, Kyle was rewarded for all the raking he did with a large Dr. Pepper as well, and it felt nice to come home to a clean house!

Then two big surprises came after all these conflicted feelings came up - Kyle and I talked, and we think we want to actually try another financial fast in March since we will no longer be working on the house!  We came to the conclusion that we wanted to have another try to see what it would really be like to not have this major project going on at the same time as trying to abstain from spending.  Before, I wouldn't have dreamed that I would want to try this again next month, but soon after we brought it up we had easily agreed!

And then we got a call that someone was coming to look at the house tomorrow afternoon!!!  Yay!

So, "we will see" is all we can say.  It is all we should say, really.  We know that God's plans can't be thwarted, and in the scheme of eternity, $8 at McDonald's and the place we live, really won't matter.  All that lasts in this life to the next is a Christ-filled spirit.  How dreadfully far from perfect we are, but Christ continues to forgive, lead, and comfort our souls.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day, which Kyle accidentally called Thanksgiving.   But now that I think about it, giving thanks for those we love and who love us is exactly what we do!  So, Happy February Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Financial Fast February FAILURE!!!

Ever done a "financial fast" before?  Yeah, me either, because I like to spend money (see previous posts).  But this month my family is attempting one - to spend as little money as possible.

I sat down at the end of January with our computer (where I always do our monthly budget), bills, and the events/places we would have to attend, host, etc. in the month of February.  Why fast in February?  The honest answer is that it is the shortest month of the year, and it starts with an "F" which makes "Financial Fast February" sound a little more catchy, huh?

I also did an inventory of all the food in our house - from our refrigerator/freezer, cabinets, and deep freezer.  I tried building our monthly menu off of those foods.  I was amazed at how much food we have in our house!  We probably could have gotten through the entire month without buying any food, but we would be eating a lot of meat and not much else.  And I figured with 2 growing children in this house, that probably wasn't a balanced enough diet.  A normal financial fast suggests trying not to buy any groceries until you absolutely have no food left in your house, but I modified this part of the plan due to the need for nutritious meals for Emersyn and Keegan.  I was pleased that instead of spending our usual $350-$400 a month on groceries and household items, we got out of the store for $145!  Still a lot more than zero, but definitely less than half of our normal spending!  I have to admit, I felt like making myself a sticker chart as I swiped my debit card!

After paying all our bills, which are due on the first of each month, we had about $840 leftover.  I was shocked!  Now, some of that is Kyle's new salary for his new part-time job at the church, which I haven't put into our budget yet.  We have decided that until my contract is up at school, we would use his ministry salary to build our emergency fund, buy items we need for Keegan, and snowball debt.  The rest of this leftover money was money that we usually just waste on eating out, renting movies, and other things that I can't even think of - what do we spend money on?  I am very curious!  Since we like to pay for convenience so often, who knows upon what we probably "nickel and dime" ourselves to financial death!

Around this time, we also found a house that is for sale.  It is a foreclosure with minimal work required.  It is more than twice the size of our current home and twice the size of our yard.  In my last post I described how when we found it, we just knew this house was "it" for us.  Of course, I also described our struggle to hold it with open hands, while we pray our home sells quickly.

We went to the bank on January 31st, in between my 3-hour glucose test, and my afternoon ultrasound in order to get preapproved for buying the new house.  And we discussed pricing for our current house.  Then we went to lunch with our last $20 from January to celebrate our good credit and "the last meal" out.  We decided to go to Iguana, since that is where Kyle first asked me out, proposed, and they just have great food and drinks!  Kyle used to work there, so he knows pretty much everyone on staff and all the regular customers.  It is like a reunion every time we go in!  That day, the owner was in, and we got to chatting with her about the house we were hoping to buy.  After we told her where it was, she started describing the inside and said that her late husband, Gordy, had done all the tile work in the house.  This instantly made the house more desirable, and it took every fiber of our beings not to read into it as a sign that the house was ours!  Kyle and Gordy were close before Gordy passed away from cancer.  How awesome that the house we love had Gordy's handiwork on display?!  But it made it all the more difficult to hold it loosely.  We had to instantly preach to ourselves and each other about how we still have to be okay with God's will in the situation, no matter how much more desirable the house was now.

Then I went to my ultrasound that afternoon, which they said my part after insurance was over $200, but if I paid in full that day, I would only pay $200.  I was instantly depressed, because in my head I visualized a cash register cha-chinging, showing our leftover money going from $840 to $640.  Although, at the same time I thanked the Lord that this bill came during a time when I had the extra money!

That night, we knew that in order to put our house on the market, we needed to fix it up a little.  We had moved in before we put all the trim boards back in the house, and you know once you move in, you stop working on the house.  We decided to use some of the leftover money to pay for trim boards, paint, and new hardware for the kitchen cabinets.  We were sure to go and buy all our supplies on January 31st, so that we technically weren't spending the money in February.  We spent about $300, and again, my mental cash register cha-chinged... down to $340.

We spent all day Saturday, Sunday afternoon and evening - into early Monday morning, uncluttering our house, organizing storage, fixing up little things here and there, painting, putting in trim, new hardware, and cleaning like crazy people!  I went to bed Sunday night at midnight, and Kyle collapsed into bed around 2am!  I can't express the overwhelming gratitude in my heart when I got the phone call that school was cancelled Monday!  I woke up so sore, that I wanted to cry!  But my heating pad and some stretching helped a lot... and soon I was at it again!  I finished the cleaning, which took most of Monday in order to get the house ready for the realtor taking pictures of the house.  And then we got a call that the house was being shown Tuesday!  We hadn't even signed the official papers yet with a decided price, and someone already was going to look at the house!  I was so excited, until I got another call that school was cancelled Tuesday as well!  How in the world do you keep a house show-ready with an active toddler in it?!  We couldn't play outside.  We couldn't go out to eat.  So I decided we would go to the library!

Now, the public library is a wonderful place!  Em and I love to go see Miss Michelle, reading books, doing our own puppet shows, playing with legos, looking through movies and books to borrow!  Because of the weather and the library being under construction/reorganization, we were the only 2 in the children's department!  Emersyn loved how big and empty the place seemed, and I was glad we were going to be able to spend a lot of time at the library without making a mess at home, being out in the cold, or spending any money!  Again, I visualized giving myself another sticker on the chart...

Emersyn picked out a book and 3 movies.  We went to the counter to check them out, and I learned that we had a fine from movies we had returned late several months ago.  Only I would go somewhere for the specific purpose of not spending any money and end up having to pay a fine!  EPIC FAIL!  When I told Kyle, he jokingly said "Why didn't you just run out of there?!"  I laughed, because I'll be honest, it really had occurred to me!  But then I thought perhaps an unpaid fine might show up on my credit report, and there was no way I was going to let a little library fine keep me from buying our dream house!

Soon the realtor called and said that they were finished showing the house, and that we were free to go home and trash it again toddler-style!  So we took our newly borrowed library items, got in the car, and drove home slowly...

As we pulled up to the house, I loudly said, "CRAP!"  As I looked at the porch railing and realized I still hadn't taken down the Christmas snowflake lights!  All that work getting the inside clean, and there on the first thing you see on the house are Christmas lights - in February!  Then I realized that also means the lights are in our online pictures of the house that the realtor took!  I was feeling very much like a failure... visualizing someone taking my stickers off my chart...

Then on Wednesday, I was in charge of bringing salad to our college ministry meal.  I had everything already except toppings, so I stopped into Braums to buy bell peppers and shredded lettuce for taco salad... and the smell of bacon cheeseburger was almost more than this pregnant woman could stand!  I smelled it the moment I got out of my car, and the strong aroma hung, frozen in the air whispering to me in a creepy, yet alluring way, "You NEED a bacon cheeseburger... CHEEEEESEBURGER!"  I walked in quickly, grabbed the two pieces of produce I needed, and raced the smell's strength over to the checkout.  The sweet older woman that works the cash register was putting bananas on the shelves, and she warmly smiled and said "I'll be with you in just a moment, dear."  And that is when I looked past her and saw a man eating a double cheeseburger.  He was only about a third through it, and I could see the gooey cheese and piled toppings as he went to take another bite!  I quickly turned around, but my brain went into high gear... "It is only $6.  What is $6?  You haven't had a cheeseburger in a really long time.  Besides, it would be indulging in protein, and the doctor said trying to focus on protein in your diet.  It isn't like you'd be getting ice cream! No!  I can't spend the money!  I know it is only $6, but that is $6 I am not supposed to touch!  Besides we are going to have dinner in 2 hours!  There is meat and cheese in nachos!  You don't need a cheeseburger, Keisha.  Oh, hurry up lady and let me pay for this produce, so I can get out of here!  It smells so good in here!"  Thankfully the lady came over and at what seemed a much slower pace, checked out my 2 items.  I swiped my debit card, punched in my pin, and grabbed my bag!

And that moment of strength seemed to outweigh all my other failures so far this month!  If you've never been pregnant, this is definitely something that can't be explained, but if you have then you probably understand that the power of that smell and my craving were both so overpowering... I consider it a true miracle I made it out of there without buying 5 combo meals, let alone leaving with only a small bag of produce!

And all the previous stickers I had lost went back onto my mental chart!  1 February week down, 3 to go!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

We've Come a Long Way... But This Seems Familiar...

I have been married for a little over 4 years and 3 months.  That isn't a super long time, I know, but it seems each year gets more and more eventful! Our first year of marriage was very calm. We didn't have that first year of fights that they warn you about. We had a routine that we loved but could go off track when we wanted... Without kids, marriage was so easy.

Not to say we are sorry we have Emersyn at all! We planned on having kids early in marriage and having many, pretty close together. And even after Emersyn was colicky for a while, I asked Kyle if he still wanted a lot of kids close together, and he responded enthusiastically "Oh yeah!" But with all the joy comes the lack of dull moments, that is for sure!

In order to afford having Emersyn while Kyle worked part-time and attended seminary, we put our house up for sale and bought a trailer. Getting rid of a mortgage payment would easily cover insurance and diapers and all other things "baby". But the house never sold, and we were faced with the decision of becoming landlords, renting out the house to cover the mortgage payment.

I am thankful for every day a renter lived in the house. That was another day my mind was free from financial fears. But then the mortgage company found out we weren't living in the house and that we were renting it out... I say "found out", but I told them. I sent them a change of address to make sure I got the bill at the trailer. I didn't realize we were going against the terms of the mortgage loan. They said we had to refinance, sell, or move back in. if we didn't they would consider it a default on the loan, even if we continued to make every payment. For 2 years I kept sending letters to the company asking for an extension, and they granted it each time. I am thankful for every person who read my letters to review our file and decided we needed more time - more time to sell the house, or save enough money to refinance, or just somehow get out of the mess.

This past July we got out of the mess by selling the trailer and moving back into the house... Yep, We have lived in this house before. I have now owned it for 9, almost 10 years! I still have such warm feelings for this house. I always will. A part of me was so excited to move back into it, because this was my first major purchase! This house made me a grown-up, and yet I have had childlike fun in it for almost a decade!

My best friend, Jessica, was my roommate for the first 5 years. We threw birthday parties, movies on the lawn parties, cookouts, watched tv on the roof, did dishes in the yard, camped out in tents in the front yard and were attacked by a friend in a gorilla suit at 1am! We had slumber parties with girls from the youth group, and international college students came over for breakfast at suppertime. We had a lot of fun in this house!

Then I married my other best friend, and this house is where Kyle and I came "home" for the first time on our wedding night. We had picnic suppers on Monday nights in the living room, watched the entire series of LOST about 3 times, fought over how to arrange furniture, remodeled the bathroom, and learned how to love each other! We have played chess, and I always lose. We have had friends over for dinner, and watched countless movies. We have prayed together every night and kissed goodbye every morning. I know what his truck sounds like as it pulls into this garage. We can walk this house in the pitch black of night without stubbing a toe. This has been our home for longer than just the 7 months we have been here this time.

But it is amazing how in just that short amount of time, life has drastically changed. When we moved here, we were not pregnant with our second child. Kyle was also not the College Minister at the church. So what seemed like a perfect, quaint fit for the 3 of us has quickly become an interesting challenge. How do we rearrange Emersyn's room to fit another kid - a baby and all the things that come with a baby?! How do we have 30+ college students over for game night, movie night, or any night, when this house maxes out at 10?!

For the one week we thought we were having twins, Kyle started house hunting online in his spare time. But we soon found out there was only one little boy in my tummy who could apparently be in 2 places at once! But the idea of a larger house wouldn't go away, and Kyle found 3 houses that were huge but low in price... Now we know there would be reasons for the low prices, but Kyle is a jack-of-all-trades. Seriously, I have seen him lay tile, tear down and build walls, wire electricity to a room, fix plumbing issues, build decks, hang shelves, and organize storage brilliantly!  So we thought it wouldn't hurt to see what kind of shape these 3 houses were in...

The first house had a lot of space. It didn't require a lot of work, all of it being things Kyle can do easily.  I liked it a lot! The second house had a lot of both as well, but the amount of work was just inconceivable! And it was pink! Absolutely not!!!

And then, the 3rd on! Kyle and I both fell in love. I have felt that way only about 4 or 5 other times in my life - you know, where you just know that it fits. I felt that way when I bought our current house. I looked at it once and told the realtor I wanted it. I felt that way about my car - drove it once and put a down payment on it. When I put my wedding dress on for the first time - I hadn't even seen it in the mirror yet - it was just me in the fitting room wearing it, and I said "This is it" out loud!

And of course when Kyle asked me to enter a courtship with him, it was the most "right" response I have ever had... A calm, but overjoyed "yes".

So Kyle and I found ourselves in a bank on Friday. We found out that we have really good credit, which was nice to know since I don't know if we have ever had it checked. And we have paid off enough debt that we also realized we could afford the mortgage payment for the larger house easily, even if I only work part-time next year like we were leaning towards!

But it is all contingent to our current home selling.

Isn't there always an "if" in life?

It is amazing when you find yourself wanting something so badly, and yet you know that you have no control over today, let alone tomorrow. A wise friend, Jamie, told me once that even up to the moment before I said "I do" that Kyle was not mine. She said I must "hold loosely" all things I want, because our ways are not God's ways. The goal of this life is not to be happy, but holy. Only God knows what is best for each of us to be sanctified throughout our lives.

Maybe His plan is that Kyle, myself, Emersyn, Keegan, and college student frequenters squeeze into this little house and live life together. I can predict already the kind of patience and forgiveness we will all have to practice on a daily basis. I am being stretched just thinking about it.

Or perhaps His plan is to orchestrate our house selling and us buying this larger house we desire so that He can open up our hearts even more as we open up our home to others more.

I'm sure He will WOW us either way with how good He is. He truly is all we need, and all the large living rooms and extra bedrooms in the whole world pale in comparison to His mighty love.

God is sovereign. "God has the right to exercise His will over my life" said A wise man named Doug. But we are also responsible. We are to work out our unearned salvation with fear and trembling. We are to check our motives in all things. And if we want our current house to sell, we have to prep it for showings!

My back aches as I type this from being on my hands and knees all day painting baseboards while trying not to get my pregnant belly in the paint! And the whole time I kept praying "Lord, whatever your will is, please make it mine too."

So whether we have 2 bedrooms or 4, 2 garages or 1... We know that The Lord has been good to us and always will be. It is His nature to care for His own. I do not want my fingers so tight around a dream that He has to break them to get me to let go and learn a hard lesson. My prayer is that our house will sell before the one we want does.  I pray that we will be able to have more space for these college students we love ministering to.

And I pray we will hold loosely all that is not ours, because it all belongs to the Lord.

And no matter what, these baseboards look good :)