Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Big Move

We're doing it. We're biting the bullet. We're moving. Buying a house. Eeek!

Don't panic, McMinnville friends. We're only moving a few miles down the road.

But first things, first. In only three days, I will officially be done with my 18 month long probationary period at work. And holy moly, will that be a RELIEF!!!! I know I've shared a little bit on here about how rough the last year and a half has been, but I haven't gone into great detail simply because...well...the sheriff's department asked for this website while doing my background checks and the last thing I want is for the Sheriff to be reading my complaints in excruciating detail. "Dear The Sheriff...". Ha ha. Right. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't go back and relive the last year of my life for a million dollars. Heck, I wouldn't even do it for $100 million dollars. No way, no how.

That being said, I love my job now. Seriously. I really enjoy the people I work with, I get a great deal of satisfaction out of the job itself, and I love that no two days are the same. For the first time, I can see myself staying here for a long time.

But the best part was when I called my boss the other day and basically asked her, point blank, whether it would be safe for me to sign papers for a house...after all, the last thing that I need is to sign papers and then have the rug pulled out from under me only 6 days before going off probation. But she reassured me that I have nothing to worry about, that everyone loves me (direct quote from her) and that I've settled in very well. I know that may not sound like much but...after the last year and a half, it's huge. Huge. H.U.G.E.

Now, on to the really fun stuff!

We've been scanning the house market in Yamhill County for about a year now, just keeping an eye on prices and the type of houses available. I have to admit, we were getting pretty discouraged. Everything in our price range was either old and beat up or new and tiiiiiiiiny. What's with newer construction houses these days, trying to put three bedrooms in the same square footage that they used to put two bedrooms in? Yeesh. Not only that, but most houses on the market right now are short sale...the process of buying a short sale house is anything but short. It's long. And frustrating.

But then we stumbled back across a house that had been on the market for over a year. We had seen it several times, but each time we were scared away by a really creepy photo of the white stone fireplace taken through a cracked lens. But this time, when Nathan pulled it up, the description detailed several updates that had been done and showed that the taxes were exempt. That was enough to spark our interest, so we called our real estate agent (who is worth her weight in gold) to see what that meant.

Turns out, the house is currently owned by the Yamhill County Housing Authority, which means that they haven't had to pay property taxes to, you know, themselves. This is a big deal because when they put it back on the market after an offer that went pending in June, they had to adjust the taxes for the current market rather than the inflated market. This translates into taxes around $1500/year instead of $2200/year. That makes a huge difference in monthly payments. Meaning we can afford a slightly more expensive house than we could have otherwise.

Without further ado, meet our potential new house:

I LOOOOOOOOOOVE it! Built in 1979, 3 bedroom 2 bath, it's in amazing condition. Since last fall, the sellers painted inside and out, replaced the counter tops, installed a new HVAC system with a heat pump for both heating and cooling, put new insulation in the attic and under the floor, had the electrical system inspected, installed a new bathtub in the second bathroom. The bedrooms are all a good size and the backyard is gigantic. Lots of room for a garden, running boys, and possibly a play structure.

The really exciting part is that it's 100% move-in ready. We can get settled in and not have to do a single thing to it. But it also has a ton of room for us to make it into our dream house through simple cosmetic updates. We already have a list of things we would love to do to the place, gradually. And that makes me excited. I loved all the changes we made to Marla's house, how we made it our own. Unfortunately, that was very rushed. You know. We had twin babies on the way. Rushed. This time, we can take it slow and enjoy the process.

At this point, our closing date is set for March 2nd. Our inspection is this coming Monday, I meet with our mortgage broker on Tuesday to get some final paperwork done, then we schedule the assessment. After months of beating our head against the house hunting wall, this is going so smoothly that it can only be a God thing.

I love God things.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Blessings of 2010

The end of 2010 was a little bit of a rough one, health-wise. We're still all battling the last bit of it, but I think we're on the mend. Hopefully this means I can finally get my house under know, get the Christmas decorations put away and 6+ loads of clean laundry folded, ha ha ha! The good news is that I'm now on a new schedule working four 10 hour shifts, which means I get a 3 day weekend, every weekend, ON the weekend! WOOHOO!

But the main drive behind this post is to reflect on the many many blessings we've experienced in the past year. Looking back, I can clearly see God's hand on our lives in our move to McMinnville and I will be forever grateful to Him for bringing us here. Some of these things I'll be writing about happened in the last half of 2009, but it all is part of the journey.

When I first found out I was losing my job in Baker, I was so very angry. We had just finished remodeling our house, we had two newborns, and we had expected to be in Baker for a very long time. The last thing I wanted to do was move back to the Valley, but this is where the jobs were. God took all choices but one completely out of our hands; the only choice we had was to trust that He would take care of us. We had no control over whether our house would sell, whether one of us would get a job before running out of income and insurance. It was a scary place to be in, but also very liberating because, as I said before, we had no choice but to trust that God had a better plan than anything we could dream of.

Each time I began to lose hope, God would provide in the nick of time. It was like He was knocking on my heart and asking, "Do you trust me yet?" Somehow, He provided a buyer for our house only two days after it went on the market. He provided a job offer only two weeks before my job in Baker ended. It wasn't my first choice, but there wasn't likely to be another offer for at least 4 more months as the hiring process for dispatchers usually takes 6-12 months (no lie). McMinnville we went.

I know for sure that God had a hand in the rental we chose. Not so much for the rental itself, but for the people who became our neighbors and then our family. As we were moving our things inside, my ever-friendly father introduced himself to the young family across the street. This family later invited us to their church, Creekside, which is now our home church. They also invited us to join the small group that meets at their house.

Ever since I became a Christian, I've been searching for a church that lives out the love that Jesus personified. Too many times, I've gone to a church only to be disappointed by the lack of spirit, the lack of love for each other. This church is so alive, so loving, so...unpretentious. The other up side is that there are SO many young families, something which we were lacking in Baker. I can't even tell you how at home we feel in this church. And the pastor is such a wonderful teacher, willing to tackle the hard or uncomfortable issues as we move through each book of the bible verse by verse, rather than skipping around and pulling out verses to serve his purposes each week. It's a breath of fresh air.

Then there's our small group. What a bunch of crazies! No, really, if you saw the video I posted on Facebook from our Christmas party, you'll know I'm not lying. But they're our family. I know that if Nathan and I ever have a need, these people will be here to hold us up. I went from being an only child to having a dozen brothers and sisters, and even a couple extra parents, ha ha. I can only pray that others will find this sort of a group to walk with each day.

After we had been here a while, I tried getting involved in the Young Life club here in Mac. I had missed being involved in YL, and felt a hole where that ministry had been. Yet nothing seemed to fit. Let's face it, when you come from a group of leaders like the ones in Baker, it's hard act to follow...and I felt anything but welcomed by the group here. On top of that, my schedule always seemed to conflict with any meeting times, club times, etc. And then the other day I came to a realization.

The hole left in my life (emotionally, mentally, and time-wise) by Young Life has allowed other holes to be filled. Since graduating from college, I've felt a very keen lack of female companionship. Part of this I attribute to the fact that there just weren't many women my age in Baker, another part to the fact that I was unsure of where I mom, recent college grad, wife, etc. I never felt like I had found a place I belonged with the women of our church in Baker. Now, however, I am surrounded by women I love very much, am involved in the planning of our Women's Retreat coming up in February, and while I have yet to find anything coming close to the friendship I have with my high school best friend...I am content.

I guess that's the theme of this entire last year; finding contentment. Not complacency, not a lack of excitement for what the future may hold, but rather a joy and happiness in where I am right this moment.

I have a wonderful, amazing husband who stays home to raise our two boys, allowing them to grow up in a loving and stable home rather than being brought up at day care by someone we barely know. He then willingly lets me take time for myself after I get home, rarely complaining or demanding the same for himself.

I have two beautiful sons who give meaning to my life and light up my day with a simple smile. They show me Christ's love for me, because I now know what it means to be completely willing to give up my life for someone. It's a powerful thing.

My parents live only 20 minutes away (at least, for 8 months out of the year), and Nathan and I enjoy a close relationship with them. I get to watch my boys grow up knowing their grandparents and I'm enjoying having them constantly around for the first time since I graduated from high school. They go to the same church we do, and I can't even express how much that means to me.

Nathan's parents, grandparents, and sister's family all live within two hours of us. After two and a half years of living clear across the state from everyone, having them all so close is a huge blessing. Hopefully that continues, so please be praying that our brother in law, Eliot, is able to find a job with a university in the area!

Nathan asked me once, during a particularly difficult time last year, what I would do if it never got any better than this? What if I never get my 'dream job' or my 'dream house'. Would I be able to find happiness in the life we have now? Sometimes that man is more wise than he knows.

And thanks to God's hand on our life, I can finally answer yes.