Friday, August 31, 2012

Five minute Friday

Lisa-Jo Baker hosts a Five Minute Friday writing challenge at her site...the topic today is CHANGE (of which I found no experience to draw!)
Boxes packed, stacked around me. Paperwork signed, sealed & delivered. In the mail. Checks and deposits. Reservations. House selling done too fast. Bought new one in a weekend. Saying good byes each time I walk into church. Tears. Joy. Sadness. Confusion. Can’t fathom saying good bye to kids and grands that have shared our roof, our table, our memories. Bright eyes to see me melt my heart and crush my spirit. Good bye? New church aWaits, memories to be made. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. To be in its doors. To put down roots. New neighborhood to be walked. Prayer walked. Prayed for friendships to venture outside their closed doors and hearts. Evangelism in the rawest and most vulnerable form. Hard to remain me, in a material world. No fake nails…they are too fake for me on this journey. I want to be me. Who He made me to be. Amidst the change END

Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Minute Friday Challenge on "Join"


When I was little I always wanted to be a part of something bigger. The neighborhood kids playing ANYTHING on the street. The clubs at school. The arts and crafts group over the summer. I just wanted to BELONG to something, because I never felt I belonged at home.

It wasn't until getting into all sorts of bad groups, that i realized that the longing was deeper than a group of people that i wanted to belong to. Even after marriage it was sometimes really lonely, especially with my husband traveling and times i was home with 3 kids under 3 (or within 3 years) and no adult voices to pat me on the back and say it's ok. you're doing a good job.

a few years ago i began to ask God to help be content with the alone-ness. and He showed my my greater desire to "join" in community. i needed assurances that I belonged to Him. I mattered there, and that's all that mattered.

now I LOVE fellowship- don't get me wrong, but it's frosting on the cake. my community is a body of Christ- adn I love them/it - but it's in the quiet that I feel more JOINED in - with Him. Unconditionally. I have HIS words of affirmation and correction. His love. His patience to draw deep from. and I'm never alone.

I'm so grateful that i didn't waste (um..not right word)...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A prayer request beyond myself...

Every now and again I get an emailed prayer request for a situation or circumstance that is completely beyond what I can imagine. The following one came from the ICOM newsletter, and demand prayerful attention!
Pray for the Smith Family
L. Smith, a 2008 Johnson Bible College graduate, was one of the first people shot in the Denver, Coloradotheatre shooting that happened not too long ago. L took a shotgun hit in the leg while protecting his new bride. Needless to say, the whole experience has been traumatic. They were also burned out of his job (literally) with the Colorado Springs fires. His parents attend the North Syracuse Christian Church in New York and work with Canadian Evangelism Ministries/Strategic World Partnerships. L and his new wife have been married 3 months. They are in New York recuperating from these events. Please pray for them!

The 2nd request is fOr a friend, Mrs D who has left to take a teaching job in another country in Africa. Her husband will join her in a few weeks, but for now she's on her own, getting adjusted, starting a new job in a place she doesn't speak the language! Prayers please!!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The House Hunt begins, and ends!!

Last week was a marathon in taking baby steps towards our move from Kentucky to Arkansas. I was able to fly out to the area, and since Mark was out of town for work, I managed to navigate getting the rental car, my luggage, and contact a friend for dinner (actually, an old school mate of my son's - so a much younger friend!!) and then get to the apartment that Mark's living in while we're apart. I didn't get lost, but had several "deja vu" moments along the way!!

The next day, I had an appt. to meet with the realtor early, to see the homes that Mark and I were wanting to see. It was a hoot! The first home she took me to we felt certain was meant to be ours. One of Mark's qualifiers was a basement - and this listing said "1000 sq ft of unfinished basement space" - so BINGO!! We were expecting to see a 1800 sq ft home with 1000 ft of unfinished basement space, we'd even talked about how much fun it would be to have space to store boxes, have a storm room, and maybe set up a ping pong table!! YES!! THIS would be our new home for certain!!

Well, upon pulling up to the home, it was lovely enough! The house setting had a lot of mature trees in the back yard, and the really hilly back yard wasn't nearly as hilly as we thought; we were pleasantly surprised. But when we walked in the front door - it was NOT home. The living room wasn't large enough to put a full size couch in. There was an eat in kitchen, which isn't a problem at any given time, but we had hoped to have room to invite folks over after church, and International Students over any other time. My heart sunk, but we plugged along. (Mark was actually able to meet us there, and tour this home with us; a nice surprise!)

The realtor led us to the patio off the back of the kitchen, not too small, but it felt odd to be so high up in the air on the back deck. I was curious as to why she'd lead us downstairs to the yard, when I realized that the "basement" was ONLY accessible through an outside entrance. Bummer. Then when she opened the door, I was SHOCKED! It was nothing more than the dirt floor of the crawl space under the house!! Granted, some of it was deep enough to stand up - but it was in NO way an "unfinished basement" - although she said that we were thinking of a "MO unfinished basement and not an Arkansas one"!!

HA! (cross THAT home off the list!)

A few homes later, after Mark returned to work, we approached one that was in our targeted price range. She let me know that the tenant would be there to assist us through the home, because she had birds. "OK" I thought. "Hmmm. Why would she need to have us chaperoned because she has a few birds?" I was thinking birds in a cage, when in fact, they had their own bedroom. With a screen door on it. The whole room was to cater to them. Not a cage in sight. She let us know that the birds were in mating season, so they might be aggressive. We were not to disturb them, as they were taking turns building a nest, preparing it. THEN she told us that the birds were both male!! Apparently, even though they would not "mate", they still went through all the stages of preparing for a mate. One that their owners felt they didn't need or deserve, despite the fact that they gave them their own room!!

We laughed a while over that one, and crossed it off the list.

Out of the 6 homes we saw, really only one was a contender - and it was the farthest from church and the University, but in good proximity to Mark's office. At the end of our day he met back up with us and drove out there with us so he could see it too. After we left the realtor, he insisted that we drive the areas of the 10 other homes that I would see on Friday. I spent 12 hours in the car, looking at homes from inside or out. I was exhausted, and could barely keep my focus on what was found at each house. I was very confused.

On Friday, our very kind realtor took me to 10 other homes, in our target price range, and a little above, just to see what was out there and available. I should quantify a few things - our "target price range" was way less than what "the bank" said we are qualified to buy - they don't take into account tithing, or generous giving, or vacations - so we've always tried to live "below our means" in that department. The other blessing is that because interest rates are down so low, even to keep our house payment where it is now, we could get WAY more house than what we have, so our plan to have extra space to have people over to feed them (Marina's Kitchen Table in real life, not online!) was a reality. God's so good!!

Well, I was so determined to stay below our target range, I kept leaning back into the house on the other side of town, away from church. She breezed me through the 2 houses that were above our "target" (but within our means) - I didn't even really pay attention to them - then Mark showed up - and HE went crazy for the one he got to see. Grrr.

I didn't care for the style - European Traditional - where I'm more country or contemporary, although the floor plan WAS a split - with the master bedroom on one side and the guest rooms on the other side. Mark loved everything about it. EVERYTHING. I was still thinking of the other house, a little less .... stuffy?...but still VERY nice  - and technically larger square footage...and another FULL bathroom...but every time I thought of that house, being farther from church and the college campus, I KNEW that we wouldn't be making an offer on it. It was tempting, but it wouldn't happen.

We ended the day with 3 houses to see on Saturday morning, with the plan of making an offer on one of them. I knew which one it would be, but through the evening we discussed looking at a few other homes in "that" price range to see what else was available. Our realtor was a good sport to take us through the 3 homes, and then through 3 more to compare. Even I didn't like the other 3. Ugh. I knew which house was left on the list. And I didn't like it because it was TOO nice!! LOL

So, we got the house that Mark wanted from the start. And we went back and forth a little on price and conditions, but landed in a blessed spot. And have a house in the process of being purchased.


And it's about 3 blocks from church.

In response to Crystal's post on Allume...

At on 8/21 Crystal wrote about "Handing Over Control" (original post is HERE) - and in response to her post, I wrote this:

Great, timely article Crystal!

In my 28 years of marriage, I've been physically moved, on average, every 3 years! Even when we had nearly free company housing! Even when my husband worked for the same company for 18 years!

Now we are in the midst of another season of move! Same company, new job title, farther away from grandkids and a wonderful church family where He placed me in a cocoon of friends, fellowship, and ministry. I had work to do here! It's not finished, but He's moving us anyways; proving His will by selling our home in less than a month. Finding us purchasing a new one, new neighbors, new church, new routine... I have NO idea what I will do! No one has said "we've prayed for 2 years for someone like you to come and fill this space...". I feel lost!

Just as the change here was new, God confirmed in many ways that it was His will. This time it's new clues to His confirming approval. I don't know what lies ahead, but I trust Him with the future. With MY future. My life is for Him to use anyways, so I'd better stay flexible!

Thanks for the good reminder that HE IS in control!

Friday, August 10, 2012

What I wish every person knew before buying a home...

I've been thinking about this for some time, and just need to get it out here:

1. KNOW your budget.
This seems like a no-brainer, but too many people expect the bank to tell them how much money they can afford to pay for a house. That's only half true. The bank is going to tell you how much they think you can afford to pay monthly, but there are things that they won't consider, like tithing, vacations, how much you like to spend at Christmas or on birthdays. If you want to have kids. Eat out. Go to movies every week, or every month, or never. So make your budget first. Track your spending. Track your saving! Decide how much you want to spend on your house payment, then include taxes, insurance or other impounds if needed. Throw in estimated utilities. Then tell the bank how much you want to spend monthly, and let them work out to see if you can afford to buy, or what you can buy for your money.

2. Don't forget closing costs.
If you are saving money for a down payment, be sure to have $4,000 - $6,000 EXTRA for closing costs. Sometimes they can be negotiated to be paid by the seller, but don't expect it. Also, don't ask the seller for them, and expect to get the house for a lower selling price. Be flexible, and decide what is more important to you - lower monthly payment, or lower closing costs.

2. - A - Know what the "norm" is in your area for possession. One place we lived INSISTED that the seller got 30 days to vacate their home. ALWAYS. The realtor's insisted on it. But that wasn't customary everywhere. For better or worse, know what the rules are in your area.

3. A starter home is meant to be just that - a STARTER home.
You don't need a HUGE house NOW for the family you hope to have in 10 years. Chances are, THAT home will cost significantly more, and you'll be "house poor" making those payments every much so that you'll not be thinking of having kids...yet... Start small, and after a few years (4-5?) you can buy up.

Also, remember that kids haven't always had their own rooms. It's ok to put 2 (or 3) kids in one room, especially until they are older. We've got generations of people that don't like to share, aren't willing to cooperate, and have a sense of "entitlement" because they have been raised that way. (shame on us.)

4. Every home is a fixer up.
Take time, and sweat equity, to put your signature on your home. It doesn't have to all be done before you move in. It doesn't have to be done in the first year. It will get done before you sell it - usually just before you list it. :)

5. Be a good neighbor, and teach your kids how to be a good neighbor too.
If you have a dog, pick up the poo. If you have kids, teach them not to run between the houses (or not to ride bikes on other's grass, or driveways). Be friendly when you are walking around the neighborhood. Don't litter. Respect other's boundaries, and property. Don't mow before 8 am and after 8 pm. If you have a pool, be polite about the noise you make. If you know it's going to be loud - then either invite your neighbors, or let them know that there's a special event going on, and apologize in advance for the noise. If your neighbor mows his lawn, mow your own at the same time - it won't look as messy. Don't block your neighbor's mailbox, impeding mail delivery. Be mindful of trash days, and don't leave your empty cans out too long.

I think that's it. If i think of other things, I'll let you know!!

The Skinny....on the move...

I am not skinny...but I've always liked that term to refer to "what's going on?"

Our house has sold, and is in the process of inspections. By mid-week we should know if we're on schedule to close by the buyers requested date of 9/14 (of course, it's a little different, since we are a company move, and they close with us, then sell to the buyer on the close date...or something like that!).

So, not a termite was there's the home inspection on Monday morning...and I think then they respond if they find anything wrong that we need to fix (I have NO idea what they could find, but we'll see!), and get it fixed.

I'm excited that it sold so quickly (less than a month on the market! - God's SO good!!) and I trust Him to find a place for us to buy just as quickly! My prayer is that by Oct. 1st we'll be settled in SOMEWHERE :)

I'm also excited that Mark loves his job!! So much fun to hear him talk, with excitement, about how each day goes by. At first I thought the move was all about Mark, but since he's started working there, we see God putting together a plan for me there too. I don't have solid details yet, but God's on the move!! I'll keep you posted!

Mark's found a church there too!! New Heights Church in Fayetteville is where we'll call home. :) YAY!! They are very missional, and although I haven't listened to their services online yet, Mark's said that they are good, and it's inspired him in several ways. I can't wait!!

And we know some folks in the area!! Mostly 20-30 year olds (marrieds, young families) but hey, I'll take it!! Although we hope to get involved with International Students there too, I hope that we get to build some great friendships....because it's going to take some GREAT friendships to help me get over leaving all these great friends here.  (sigh)

So, that's what's up for now! Thanks for your prayers...keep them up!! They are SO appreciated!!

Love and blessings,

Five Minute Friday - Connect

For those of you wanting/needing an update on my life - I PROMISE I'll write more this evening (or tomorrow). But for now, I only had 5 minutes to spare....

Here's my post for my Five Minute Friday:

Connect is such an important word to me…such a valuable concept to live in. Communication is a huge part of what i am, what i do, and if i don’t have others to connect with, well, i’m a duck out of water!

Mark is always great to connect with me – even too much sometimes! he’ll call on a break, or when he’s driving to say hello and see how my day is, just to touch base. In this season of living apart (he’s at a new job, I’m with the “old” house) we have to connect on several levels – personally, house stuff here, house stuff there…but we don’t get to connect deeper – and I miss that.

I’m at a conference this week on Global Leadership – and it’s all about connecting with each other. I’m attending with our church – at a neighboring church – so we stand out – this large group, connecting and discussing thoughts and ideas. but the thing that runs behind it all for me is how much i’m going to MISS them all in just a few short weeks!

i’m grateful for the internet, social media, and basic telephone – knowing that i’ll get to continue to connect with them…


Romans 12, Parts 2 and 3: Balanced and Beautiful in Christ

The new posts that I wrote for Balanced and Beautiful in Christ are now live on their Facebook page, and here on my new blog site (subscrib...