06 October 2014

when things don't turn out the way you planned

I don't even know where to begin this post.  I guess, I'll just start at the beginning.  When Brad was hired, our housing was included in the compensation package.  The house we live in is actually owned by the city but leased by the non-profit that Brad works for.  Our first walk-through was in May.  It was dark and more than a little depressing.  There was broken furniture and random bits-and-pieces of kids' toys in each room. Inexplicably there were no toilet paper holders or towel bars in any of the 4 bathrooms. There were brief discussions of tearing out the kitchen and adding an addition to really allow for a better flow in the space.  After a few contractors walked through and began pricing things, an addition seemed too costly and the current kitchen would be just fine with some paint.  I spent hours hovering over paint colors online and picking up stacks of paint chips at Sherwin Williams.  Our home was dubbed "The Cottage" by the board of directors so I decided to go with cottage-y paint colors. I came over at different times of day to try and decide how the colors would look in each room.

{Did I mention this was the first time we have ever picked paint colors?  Ever.}

The carpets were torn out, the old furniture was tossed, and the broken toys were swept away.  I felt certain the new paint colors brightened the place up.

The boys and I spent 2 weeks in July while Brad came back to keep things on track for our move-in.  He found flooring that matched the current laminate.  He replaced every door knob in the house and added switch plates where there were none. He removed mirrors in the bathrooms to make room for new counters. He picked out cabinet pulls for the kitchen and the bathrooms and lighting for a couple rooms too.  He power washed the spider webs from the stone facade. He hustled right along with the hired-workers to make sure this place would be ready for us.

We packed up our belongings and settled them in here at the end of July.  The boys started school just two weeks later.  This place was becoming home.  The Cottage still had a lot of work to be done. It seemed like every day Brad had an appointment with one contractor or another. An unusable sliding door was removed and the wall was framed in.  The plumbing in the kitchen needed some adjustments and there was some trouble in the back bathroom too.  The dryer vent was actually a little too small and would likely need to be replaced.  There were a couple of electrical boxes that needed work. We put off replacing the duct work in the attic until cooler weather came.  The exterior was painted in August.   Gutters were installed shortly thereafter.

Brad decided to call in a 2nd opinion about that back bathroom plumbing issue.  The 1st plumber thought we'd have to tear up the floor in Lincoln + Franklin's bedroom to get to some roots in the line. We didn't like the idea of having to break up the concrete slab, so Brad decided to hire a plumber with a camera to send down the line.  It seemed like the guy was here forever, Brad kept calling me and asking me to flush toilets while they watched on the little camera screen outside.

The findings were not good.  The foundation was cracked and had fallen in multiple places along the line.  He suggested the main sewer line be replaced.  He said it would be hard to give an estimate because most of the cost would be labor.  The slab would need to be broken up in every single bedroom in the house.  The plumber's best time frame for the job was "weeks."  When the plumber left, he suggested we not use the back two bathrooms -- which happen to be the master bathroom and the bathroom the three littlest dudes use daily.

So we had a couple choices, move our family somewhere temporarily and have the organization spend a lot more money on The Cottage.  All the while hoping that somehow no "new problems" would be discovered.  Or amend Brad's contract to allow for a housing stipend and we would find a new house.

Y'all, I cried when he told me.  I can't even explain all the reasons why.  I felt like we had put so much effort in to making this place our home, I just couldn't bear to leave it.  Not only that, but my husband had just worked the hardest summer of his life getting us moved and settled and the thought of having to see him do all that again was just too much.

If I got to vote, I would've voted to try and stay here for as long as possible, maybe make it until next summer even.  {I know nothing about sewer lines.}  Then have the work done while we stayed in a beach house.  {A girl can dream!}

Within a day or so, I was pretty settled.  I told Brad that I would be OK with whatever decision the board came up with.  I prayed that God would give them all wisdom.  I knew for sure He would take care of our family.

 A resolution was passed that Brad would be given a housing stipend and we would find a new home.

We began searching.  We knew we didn't want the boys to have to switch schools again.  This narrowed our search down to Walker's schools' zone.  Our choices were limited.  Especially in the 4 bedroom range.  We walked through one mid-century-modern home that hasn't been updated since the mid-70's.  Part of me was in love with it -- I think the part that now knew what a difference fresh paint can make.  Part of Lincoln started wheezing - I think the asthmatic part of him.  The place smelled of pet urine and cigarette smoke.  The rent exceeded what the board had approved for the housing stipend too.  It was just two blocks from Walker's school though.  The only other four bedroom for rent in Walker's schools' zone never returned our phone calls or emails.  I think I emailed them at least 4 times. The rent there also exceeded the housing allotment.

I started emailing realtors about houses they had listed to see if the owners might be interested in renting.  I am sure realtors love getting messages like that.  Surprisingly, none were interested in renting to us.  {And they didn't even know we have an 80 lb dog!}

Y'all.  The odds were good that God was going to have to come through in a big way because there was absolutely nothing we could do.  Knowing that the sewer could back-up at anytime, Brad really wanted to move sooner rather than later.  The scene was set for God to dazzle us. My hope was more stubborn than ever.  I'd recheck Zillow and Realtor.com everyday and smugly shrug my shoulders when nothing new showed up in our search circle.  God would come through.  One way or another - and likely not the way I expected.

We wrote out a list of our needs as well as a few "bonus" items.  We forgot to put things like "dishwasher" but did include "garage." We asked some folks to pray with us specifically. We kept our list in our family Bible and prayed over it with our morning proverb.  One day, I decided to drive through a nearby neighborhood to see if there were any new signs.  I remembered that there was a "for sale by owner" house and it looked empty.  I decided to call and see if they might be interested in renting.

I was surprised they called me back.  I clearly said in my message that I was wondering if they would consider renting it to us. Of course, they said "yes."  They even said "yes" again after I admitted we have a large dog.  And four boys.

The rent is $205 less than the housing stipend.  And Walker can stay at his school.  And there is a garage.  And a fireplace.  And a bonus room off of the master bedroom for our office + my sewing stuff. And every bit of it reminds me that God knows the details.

I absolutely do not want to move again this week. But everything in me trusts the God that goes before us. I know it would be foolish to dig my heels in and refuse.  There are still some unknowns and I left a big portion of the story untold.

My take-away in all of this, is that God goes before us.  He is with us.  I cried about moving.  I've looked longingly at our paint colors more times than I can count, since finding out we'd be leaving them behind.  Even so, God did not condemn.  He lovingly redirected me to trust Him.  He reminded me that every word in the Bible is true.  The rental listings with few options assured me that God was going to make this happen, not us.  And He did.

So we are packing up our belongings and preparing to make another house our home.  Trusting along the way that our good God goes before us and with us.

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