Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Year So Many Things Changed...

 This has probably been the most disruptive year I can remember since 2012.  It isn't all bad.  There has been so much good, so much blessing, and so much grace.  There has also been a lot of pain, of every kind: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  And yet, even in all of that pain, there has also been tremendous grace, mercy, peace, and comfort.

2022 is a year of change for us.

Our son moved to Columbia, MO last year and so this year, we have had to learn how to manage our children being in multiple locations.  We have had to learn to love on our son from afar.  And he has not been free from the pain and change--it has been an extremely difficult year for him, especially on them mental health front.  As a parent, as a mother, it cuts deep when you cannot be there to protect and comfort and love on your kids.  So I have had to learn to love him in different ways, and try to show up for him from in genuine and tangible ways, when we can't physically be there.  And yet, in this, I have never been closer to my son.  I have watched Kris pursue his son this year with passion and purpose and this has been essential in our son continuing to learn that we love him NO MATTER WHAT.  What a blessing it has been to both see this relationship between them develop and grow, but to also see my own relationship with my son, once so tumultuous and difficult become something so beautiful.  It has been healing my heart in so many ways and my son and I share a closeness and a bond and a connection I honestly never imagined possible just 3 years ago.  It brings me to tears whenever I think about it.

Kris attended an intensive retreat back in February, and that has brought its share of changes.  All of them good.  For him and for us.  God has been preparing him to lead our family in new ways, to new horizons.  I have watched my husband dig in deep to things he has never been willing to face, let alone enter into the pain of.  He has taken step after step to heal in deeper ways and I have had the joy of watching it happen. My husband is a good, GOOD man.  When I say that, he's that guy that people describe as a GOOD man.   How I was lucky enough to spend my life with a GOOD man baffles me.    

I have also seen the enemy attack, and been devastated in ways I didn't think I could be again.  Because GOOD men are still imperfect men.  GOOD men still cause you pain.  GOOD men still misstep and GOOD men fail and disappoint you.  

But do you know what else a GOOD man who loves God and is growing also does?  

He gets up.  

He dusts himself off.  

He picks up his sword and he chases after God all over again.  

He comes to the person he loves and he is honest, even though he knows it will break her heart.  He doesn't try to hide.  He faces it and he apologizes.  And he doesn't just apologize.  He comes to you, completely broken and humbled and telling you that he has not given up the fight.  He will stand and he will fight.  And he will repair (with God's help) the damage he has done.  And beyond that, a GOOD man sits with you in your pain.  He holds you through day after day of panic attacks, even if your body won't stop trembling for hours and his back is out.  He bears up under the shortness and frustration and tense moments and words right now because it is his job to bring healing to the relationship.  And though right now, my equilibrium is off, my GOOD man has stepped up in ways I have never seen and I KNOW that I am safe with him.  So I will hold onto that truth until I finally FEEL safe again.  I am a fighter, and I know what I have and what I want.  I know what I almost threw away and I have watched God do miracle after miracle in both of our hearts and our marriage these last 10 years.  So I know that I can trust that God will bring all the hope and healing and comfort and peace as we walk down this path and navigate these difficult conversations.

I have not been without missteps myself.  At the beginning of summer, I found myself suddenly in the midst of extreme temptation.  The devil kept trying to pull me back into old habits and old ways to soothe my hurting heart, long before Kris stumbled.  But for the grace of God, I surely would have fallen back into old patterns.  When I saw it happening, I was so desperate to NOT go back there because it was so incredibly difficult to recover from and I knew it wasn't what I really wanted or needed.  So I brought my burden to Kris, and it caused him pain to know that I was struggling with wanting attention, but we worked our way through that.  

The enemy is real and fighting hard to destroy what God has not only ordained, but fully restored and healed.  And this has all also happened to me during a year of extreme spiritual growth.  And not just spiritual.  I began Pain Reprocessing Therapy and have 7 weeks under my belt.  It has been some of the most difficult work I have done in my life.  Dealing with my dead marriage in 2012 somehow felt easier than what I am walking through right now, perhaps because I wasn't trying to unpack 43 years of pent up ways of living my life, trapped with the frightened heart of a little girl.  And while Kris is right beside me through it, he isn't able to soothe the heart of that little girl.  He can't repair what is broken in her heart and mind.  I have to do that.  And so while I am not alone, I have to do the work myself, and I have to dig in to things I don't want to look at: specifically something that came up in therapy this week--I don't like that little girl.  And so that's probably the place to start, and it is likely a road on path to freedom from the neuroplastic pain that my body keeps locked up inside of it.  So I will dive in and I will fight for a sound mind and a body that knows how to properly interpret pain.

Beyond that, we have been waiting for two years to be a part of a new church plant we heard was in the works.  Covid put plans for that on hold and it has taken a while to finally get up and running.  But here we are, just 4 days away from the launch of The House in Ferguson, MO.  Kris and I feel so blessed to be a part of what God is doing in the community of Ferguson.  There is so much pain there and so much healing that is needed on so many fronts.  The House will be a place for the broken and the lonely to find a family.  It is a place to come HOME, no matter where you have been or how far or long you have run.  And it is place where those who have only known broken homes will start to understand what family really is.  

It is terrifying and exciting in equal measure.  I know God wants to use us, individually and as a couple, and that our story can bring hope to others who are drowning.  So we stand ready for this change and it has not been lost on us how the enemy will ramp up his attacks.  And believe me, he has definitely increased the intensity with which he tries to entice us back to sin.

And if that wasn't enough, we decided to throw a move into the mix.  We began earnestly saving money to finally move out of our little starter home that we raised our family in.  When we finally saved enough for our down payment and closing costs, we began the house hunt.  We didn't know how many houses we would look at or how long the process would take.  I was scared, of course, not knowing how to wait.  But God had been preparing me all summer to just sit down and wait.  He showed me he was right there with me in the waiting.  And as I tried to walk forward in faith and obedience in that through this process, he showed up and moved quickly.  We had already looked at 5 or 6 houses.  Each one had tiny little elements that showed me that God loved me, but none were the right house.  

One Thursday, possibly exactly one month ago (give or take ONE week), we looked at a house.  It had the "bones" of what we wanted, but it didn't have main level laundry and it didn't have a kitchen that would have worked for me without fully rehabbing it up front.  But it had a pool, which has become less about want and more about need over the last few years with my spine and my mental health.  We began to imagine ourselves in this home and talked about putting an offer in.  

And then the crazy stuff started happening (thanks a lot, Lindi!).

Within an hour and a half of looking at that house, my friend sent me a link to a different house she had found and jokingly asked if I had an extra $25,000.  We did not have any extra, let alone THAT much!  The house we had just looked at would have put us at the highest end of our budget with rehabbing the kitchen.  But I looked at 3 pictures and then immediately took my phone to Kris' office at work and said LOOK.  We looked at the pictures together, and I said I wanted it, even without a pool.  He was like but look--there IS a pool.  Wait what?!?  It's this beatuiful AND it has a pool?  And that pool is 20 times better than the pool I just looked at?  Kris surprised me by saying he loved the house, and he immediately starting thinking about ways to make it work.  I left his office and said "I want it."  I don't think either one of us, in that moment, seriously thought it was something that would happen.  We didn't have any extra $25,000--that adds a LOT to your monthly payment and we simply couldn't afford monthly payments at that price.  So we still talked about putting an offer in on that other house.  

Our agent was able to get us in to see the too expensive house the next day, and we were only the second people to see the home.  We had spent time praying about each house we looked at, before walking in.  We were not rushing into anything and we were trusting that God would guides us in this process.  So as I walked through the house I couldn't afford, I found myself trying not to fall in love with it.  I did envision myself there, but in a way you dream about owning a mansion and marrying a movie star when you are 13.  I didn't let myself get wrapped up in it.  The kitchen was actually smaller than I envisioned for myself (though it had the exact amount of counters I told Kris was a must) and I didn't really want to look for things to love at the house I knew we couldn't afford, so I honestly didn't even look at it in the same way I looked at the others.  I think I might have been afraid that if I looked too close, I would not be able to let it go.

Even when I went out to the back and found possibly the most gorgeous deck and pool with butterflies everywhere that anyone would want to sit out on day after day after day, I didn't let myself invest emotionally in that house.  But after we looked at it and discussed it, I knew it was something I wanted.  Kris felt the same way.  We didn't have a quick summer romance with that house....we were patient with our emotions about it.  We both wanted to put an offer in on the house.  But we couldn't offer what they were asking.  And in this market right now, good luck getting a house without offering at least asking, in most cases, waiving inspections just to sweeten the deal.

But God blessed us with a very wise and exceptional agent.  My friend who sent the link to that house is married to our agent, and I swear the two of them are an incredible team.  She found the house, and he guided us through how to approach our offer.  He advised us to offer the list price, and waive inspections.  He knew there would be multiple offers on a home like this, in a very quiet neighborhood in Ferguson.  We listened to his guidance and we looked at our budget.  It wasn't really feasible to offer asking, or offering anything at all.  And yet, we wanted to try anyway.  

We really felt God's hand guiding us through the entire process and Kris felt compelled to put out a fleece.  If you aren't familiar with the story of Gideon in the Bible, just know that Gideon asked God for a sign.  Not once, but twice.  And both times God gave him a sign.  He didn't have to.  He could have been silent, letting Gideon make the decision for himself.  But he showed up for Gideon in ways that made it clear this is what he wanted. So when Kris floated the idea of laying out a fleece and asking God to give us a sign, I was just like "okay."  What was our fleece?  Our fleece was to offer $15,000 higher than what we knew we could afford.  And it was still $10,000 LESS than asking.

If we gave up our monthly beach savings (which most of you know is a genuine sacrifice for me), we could swing the payments.  We weren't sure how to come up with the extra closing costs or down payment we would need if they did choose us, but we were trusting that God would show us one way or the other if this was the right house for us.  If the house were the right house, then we would figure out a way to quickly gather the extra money we would need to close.   

We put this offer in, though it was less than asking.  We waived all inspections in faith.  It was highly unlikely that we would even be considered.  We looked at that house on a Friday, and put our offer in on Saturday.  The sellers would decide on Sunday night.

Saturday evening, we got a text saying that there were other offers higher than ours.  We were given the opportunity to increase our offer.  We talked and prayed about it, looked at the budget and really felt like we needed to stick with our original offer.  It was already a stretch when we had asked God for a sign at the amount we offered.  So we said thanks, but no thanks.  If this house is meant to be, they will choose us.  

However, we did not believe that we would be chosen, knowing there were other offers higher than ours.  Not in a "we don't have enough faith" way.  It was more of a practical, "it would literally take a miracle" belief.  So that night, we prayed about it, and we let the house go.  I did not believe we would get it, and I felt peace about going back to make an offer on the other house or continuing to look.  But I still held out for a miracle.  I told so many people that weekend that it would take a miracle for us to get that house.  

I've forgotten a few details, but at some point Sunday night, we got our answer to the fleece we laid out.  We were given a yes.  We were given a miracle.  We got a text saying that if we went up an extra $5000 on our offer, the house was ours.  We started scrambling to see if we could come up with that much extra cash at closing.  If we took all of our beach money we have saved, and if you look at the fact our first house payment wouldn't be due until November, we would have almost the exact amount we needed.  

We asked for a sign.  We asked God to show us if we were moving in the right direction.  We put out a fleece and said if they choose us, that is a yes.  So we felt comfortable accepting their counter offer, at $5000 higher.  We wrote it up and signed it.  They signed it.  We didn't know if it would pass the occupancy inspection, but we walked forward in faith.  And it was in that that God provided another miracle.  The inspection passed with flying colors.

And then, as if that weren't enough, God did ANOTHER miracle.  The house didn't appraise for what we offered.  Do you know what amount the house actually appraised for?  The amount of our ORIGINAL offer, the one we put out in faith, as a fleece, trusting that if the home were right, then that was the right amount.  And now, I am sitting at my dining room table in my dream home that has things I never even knew were dreams, just in awe of God.  The weather for the next week is just gorgeous enough to eek out a few good days in the pool before we close it up for the year.  Today is my youngest's 17th birthday and all of the family, including my son, will be in town to celebrate her and this new home that we will some day have grandkids running around in.  It makes me weep to think about the patter of tiny feet and the laughter and the memories that will be made in this home.  I am more grateful than I have words to express.  I cannot believe that this is my life.  I am so so thankful that I have pressed into God, instead of pulling away.  We are here today because we have walked forward in faith and because God loves his children so much and he loves to give us good gifts when we sincerely seek after him.  He delights in us and this home is just a taste of how much.

So, all of that to say, 2022 has been a big year.  It has had tremendous pain, heartbreak, and devastation.  But it has had even greater amounts of comfort, peace, joy and miracles.  When I think about the work God is calling us to, and I look at this home, I see a safe haven.  For us, and for those lost and hurting and drowning in a sea of pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment