Thursday, June 29, 2017

No.01: God is Faithful - The Story of our Big Move

Have you ever read the beginning of the Old Testament where the Israelites are newly saved from slavery and on their way to the Promised Land?  And then like, two seconds into the desert, they're whining and complaining like spoiled children.  "We don't have food!  We'll never make it through!  God has forsaken us!"  In those two seconds, they forgot all the incredible wonders and miracles that God had performed for them.  Most importantly, they didn't trust that He would care and provide for them.

Whenever I read those chapters, I shake my head at their impatience and bellyaching.  But uhh, take the plank out of your own eye, Ashley.  I'm so often guilty of doing the same exact thing.  Instead of trusting that God's timing is best, I am quick to complain that life isn't just as I had planned.

I don't want to be this way.  I want to be a woman of great faith.  I want to be someone who seeps gratitude from her pores, someone who never forgets all the good that the Lord has done for her.  Because even if the road doesn't look like we imagined, He is always, always faithful.

Below is the story of our move into our own soon to be big white farmhouse.  (It's currently painted tan, but I've got big plans.)  It's long, but read it its entirety, it is clear that God has been with us from the beginning.  Just like with Patrick's birth, I hope I never forget that I'm always in good hands.

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It started with a dream deep in my heart: I want my children to run.

We lived in a wonderful suburban home - plenty big, with lots of bedrooms and space.  Truly, we had all that we needed and more!  But our yard was the size of a postage stamp and my children never really desired to play outside because a ton of kids in a postage stamp sized yard is hard.

In the summer of 2014, after living there for almost two years, I came across the most perfect house.  It was only ten minutes away, but on four gorgeously flat acres.  As we waited for the realtor to arrive to show us inside, I sat on the front stoop, largely pregnant with TJ, listening to the breeze on the small pond and watching my kids run and play in the yard.  I thought, this is exactly my dream.

But it wasn't.  Even though the house had been sitting on the market for almost nine months, the weekend we were ready to put in an offer, two others also came in and we lost it.  I was devastated.

We decided to push through and look at other possibilities.  Each time, incredulously, we lost the house due to crazy circumstances.  We put in an offer on a house sitting on the market for six months only to hear that the owners were accepting an offer they had received months prior.  

We wanted to move and God was definitely (and clearly!) saying no.

In hindsight, we're thankful for that no.  By September, we had a new baby.  We had costly home repairs come out of nowhere.  There was flooding in our rental property, resulting in more repairs we were unprepared for.  Purchasing that home, with its bigger mortgage payment, would have been devastating to our budget in light of all of these expenses.  God knew.

Fast forward to a year later, the summer of 2015.  We hesitantly started to look at houses again.  Again, crazy circumstances occurred for every house we saw.  For example, we put an offer on a house the weekend it went on the market, only to have them mysteriously reject it and then take the home off the market the following week.  We were praying and begging God for guidance and direction, but let's be honest, I didn't really like the answer.  The answer was no.

And again, in hindsight, we're thankful for that.  Around the same time, our water heater flooded, not once but twice, resulting in more costly home repairs.  The renter in our previous home stopped paying his rent, making our budget really tight as we paid two mortgages.  God knew.

During the fall, Mark and I started talking about a piece of property that we had looked at months prior.  The home was very dated and poorly designed, but the six acres was attractive and we starting talking about renovations.  I kid you not, the very next day, I received an email saying that the home was pending purchase from another buyer.  At this point, Mark and I could only laugh.  We get it God, we're not supposed to buy now.  But when?  I prayed for contentment.

In 2016, we found an ideal renter for our rental property and made some big decisions regarding schooling for the boys.  We actually had a lot of peace about staying put for awhile.  This was the time I kept saying, "And if not, He is still good."  While our house wasn't in our dream location, it was still home to our little children and we were determined to make it feel as such.  We started doing the upgrades we'd always talked about.  We watched in awe as the birds came to our feeder and the cottontail rabbit cared for her babies.  Life wasn't exactly how we wanted, but it was still good.

In December, we welcomed our sweet baby boy.  In January 2017, we decided to put our rental property up for sale.  Despite being the middle of winter and the slow real estate market, we were shocked to sell it after only three weeks.  With that behind us, we casually peeked at listings again, never intending to see anything great.  But that's when we found it: a farmhouse on five acres that literally looked like the house in my dreams.  On Saint Patrick's Day (and with our history, the exact day certainly doesn't go unnoticed), we took a tour and fell in love.  It was all I had imagined and more.

And thus began the most crazy, stressful, and exciting adventure of my life!  We put in an offer the next week and the sellers were so great - accepting and accommodating to our contingency needs, the inspection repairs were done quickly - shoot, even their requested closing date fit perfectly in our timeline.  (The boys were able to finish the school year!)  We put our house on the market right after Easter and three weeks, 40+ showings, two open houses and a bunch of gray hairs later, we had a contract.

A little over a week ago, we received the keys and officially moved into our new home.

Now that it's all said and done, we are so humbled by God's incredible provision for our family.  We are excited to raise our children here and share the joy of this opportunity with others.  My favorite place in the entire world is my great-grandmother's farmhouse in the countryside of Maine.  How crazy to think that I will be able to create a similar space here in Virginia for future generations to come!  I can't wait.


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One more note:
After lots of consideration and prayer, I'm happy to be back to writing in this space.  I've given up on the ideas of earning an income, providing loads of free printables and being Pinterest-worthy.  The heart of this blog has always been to record the ordinary extraordinary of my life and to find (and spread) joy and gratitude in everything.  So that's what remains - just a little blog about a woman striving to live a full life and all the lessons learned along the way.  I'm honored to have you here.  
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