Tuesday, October 22, 2013

our wilderness years

First off, let me explain that this post is to help update those family and friends that are keeping track of our journey back to Texas these past few months.  Trying to relay all the details to each individual person has become very taxing on me.. since the news has been more negative than good.  Bare with me, this is an honest post written by an orange roll eating pregnant woman who is sitting in an empty apartment in a lawn chair at 4am.  So with that being said... let me explain why you must be confused at this point.

It's Tuesday morning, roughly 4am, and I am sitting here in a lawn chair in the middle of an empty apartment somewhere on the south side of Nashville.  When God told us, back in August, that he would be moving us back to Texas to be with our family and with a GREAT company on our side to make it possible, we were beyond thrilled.  The dreaming of Christmas morning at our house then lunch at my parents and then zip on over to my in-laws to hand deliver presents instead of always having to pick a body part to sell over to science just so that I can get Christmas to my family via UPS... it was all overwhelming and blissful at the same time.  We prayed, we made a game plan, and mustered up enough courage to begin.  The middle of August, we put our house on the market.  48 hours later we had two offers on our home.  Going good so far.  Now, we must find a house in Texas.  As we drove down to Texas, hopeful that God had something there for us, we had no idea what was to come.

As we spent several days searching for homes, we found one that really felt like "the one".  Now, to some of you, "the one" might be your choice because it is perfect, your dream house, or something you just can't live without.  None of those options were what did it for us.  It was a short sale home with cosmetic issues that had crunchy grass in the front yard.  It needs some love, y'all.  But the minute we saw it, God told us.  I can't explain it, but we looked at each other and knew for some wild reason, that this was the house God wanted for our family.   I couldn't even really explain the why to my Mom as I recapped our day to her.  It was just a solid in my mind.  God had this in his plan.  As the days unfolded in Texas with putting in an offer on this short sale home, the details started to look a little off.

9 weeks?  What do you mean?  We wouldn't possibly be able to get into the house for 9 weeks?  We need a house, like yesterday!  I'm slowly making my way to the third trimester of my pregnancy and we need to be settled.  God where are you?

That weekend and the decision we felt we were blindly making, was really completely guided by God.  In the midst of our home search in Texas, the offer on our home in Tennessee fell completely apart.  Panic set in.  The back-up offer that wasn't as good and we were losing a lot of money with the deal came in to effect.  Ok God, we get why 9 weeks may be a part of your plan now.  It's painful but we get it.

As grueling home inspection negotiations proceeded, we still felt hopeful.  God, you've got this, right?

For several weeks we crawled past home inspections on our home in Tennessee and started them for our home in Texas.  So far so good.  And then, the government shut down.

For some, the government shutdown did not effect you personally.  For us, we were greatly impacted.  The sale of our home in Texas was completely put on hold due to the type of Federal loan we were getting.  For two and a half weeks, we sat.  Watching, waiting, packing & praying.  We were at risk for losing hundreds of dollars on a house that may never be ours.

In the midst of that chaos, God was still working.  In order for Andrew to start working with his new company, he would have to leave me here with the kids and go to Texas and live with my parents while getting settled.  We trusted that God would take care of us even in our separation and house details.  Andrew then one day gets a phone call that his company has landed a job in Nashville, and would like for him to work here for about 9 - 12 weeks on a job.  See a pattern yet?

At this point, mid-september, we were told that our closing date on our home in Tennessee would be October 15th.. then it changed to October 24th.  Our new closing date for our short sale home in Texas would be November 26th due to the shut down.  That's a month in between.  God, where are we going to live?  Yet, I am still packing for what feels like the end of the world as we know it.  October 1st is here and we are trying to figure out 1) where we are going to live and 2) where are we going to put our things?

As we talked and prayed over the details, we were offered an empty apartment at Andrew's job site. Free of charge.  Rent, electricity, water.. taken care of.  Now, where are we going to put our things?  We found a company that would come and load all of our boxes and furniture, store it for a month, and then come unload it for us in Texas when we needed it.  All for the price Andrew's company had graciously extended to us to help move us to Texas.  With those details in place, all we needed to do was pack, pack & pack.  I spent days and weeks going through closets and drawers, thoughtful packing our suitcases for a month of not being in a home of our own.  As our closing date of October 24th started creeping up on us, trouble began to hit.

For some reason, our home owners did not do an appraisal until a week before closing.  The appraiser came and found a window (a large solid two pane tempered glass window) that he felt wasn't cosmetically appealing, and told us that we can't close on our home until we have had it replaced.  He wasn't budging, the lender wasn't budging, and we had to find a solution.  After several days of scrambling to try and make this work, we were told that we should order the window and that we could possibly give a receipt showing that we have paid for it, and then close on our home October 24th.  The appraiser, our realtor, his secretary, and window guy all told us that this shouldn't be a problem.  The movers were scheduled to come on Sunday, October 20th to take our belongings to Texas.  We KILLED ourselves to get all of our things ready for them.  When they arrived, the men took one look at the price they had bid us, our stuff, and told us that we were looking at having to pay a little more than double what they had originally quoted us.  Panic set in again.  We had no choice, we had to get our things out so we could close on our home.  After several hours, they were done and we watched everything we own leave in a semi-trailer headed for Texas.

We brought our suitcases, pac n plays, a few dishes, a couple of lawn chairs, and a tv to our make shift apartment home on the south side of Nashville.  As we bounced and rolled every which way on the air mattress that night, I felt like I was finally seeing the end to at least a part of the madness we had been dealing with the past few months.  Then Monday morning hit.

Yesterday was a bad day.  Mentally, emotionally, & physically.  I was tired of dealing with crazy toddlers and contractions.  Around 9am I get a phone call from our realtor's secretary.  Bad news.  We can't close on our home until we have ordered the window, have had it delivered, installed, and inspected by the appraiser - again.  Wanna guess what the minimum amount of time this can take?  2-3 weeks.

We spent the majority of yesterday trying to figure out what to do.  And the conclusion, there is nothing we can do.  At the end of the day, we are going to have to make another mortgage payment on an empty house.  We are living in a make-shift home when all of our things were paid to have sit in Texas for no reason at all.  There is only so much money and energy you can give to make something possible.  And I am drained.   So here we are, no closing date in sight for our home in Tennessee and a countdown has begun for our home in Texas.

All the while, in the midst of the anger I felt boiling my blood at the lender and appraiser here in Tennessee, I questioned God.  Where in the world are you?  Do you not see us down here trying to follow you around like loons while we are on the biggest wild goose chase of our life?  How are we going to pay for all of this?  Why are you stripping everything away from us like this?

And that's just it.  We are stripped of everything at this point.  Our belongings, our sanity, our sense of community.  Gone.  But all the while, I can't help but look back at everything I have typed out and know without a shadow of a doubt that God is good.  He has a plan.  I don't have any earthly idea what his plan is at this point, but I know that he is still working.  I cried and cried yesterday and he fed my panic with his word.  His word that I have ingrained in my heart so that on days of trouble, where my mind and heart fail me, truth steps in.  What was the point of me going through all of this?  Turning down photo jobs and giving away work.  Not doing a birthday party for Selah Grace because we were supposed to be moving.  Packing all of our belongings when I could have had my babies sleep in their beds for another month instead of on a hard pac n play.

As I sat, mad at this whole situation, I couldn't help but think of all of the stories that Andrew shared with me when he came home from Africa just a short time ago.  People that are so broken and without any thing of value in their life.  They depend on God.  He gives them what they need to get through the day.  My heart and mind struggled as I sank down into our air mattress for the night.  First world problems and fleshly desires overwhelming me.  God is obviously trying to set me down and teach me something.  Guess I'm just going to be quiet and listen.

"The LORD will fight for you, you need only be still." Exodus 14:14

Where is God in my mess?  He is right here.  Beside me.  Watching me cry and beat my head against a wall over finances, having to cook dinner with the little that I brought from our home, and over an air mattress.  But we are blessed.  He tells me I am and I will chose to believe him.  Not sure what the next month will look like for us, but please join us in praying.  This sweet tot inside of me is due to make his arrival in just a few weeks and I have nothing prepared.

These past few years have been named "our wilderness years".  A lonely and sometimes painful journey, but we are hoping for the promise land on the other side.  I can tell you this though, I will never ever ever be able to sit back and watch a family go through something like this and not have compassion and lend a helping hand for someone else after going through what we are going through.  I will not wait for that tired young mom who is trying to hold it together to come to me and ask for help.  God has shown me how I can make a difference in the future with this and I look forward to the day that I can cook a meal and drop it off on a door step, send a gift card, or call and leave a prayer on a voicemail or through a text.  Each time kindness is shown like this, we see God.  Thank you to those who have helped without even being asked to.  It takes a lot for a Mom to keep it together without having to call a million people trying to gather support.

So glad that I serve a faithful and gracious God.